Path to St. Peter ad Vincula-Part VI-D

Path to St. Peter ad Vincula-Part VI-D

It is not the intent here to explain the entire proceedings of the trials of the men in question.  It shall suffice to say that the evidence was flimsy at best and non-existent in most cases.  Even Ambassador Chapuys, an outspoken opponent of Anne, recognized that with only one of the men confessing to the alleged crimes, the “others were condemned upon presumption and certain indications, without valid proof or confession” (Gairdner X 908). 

Indicted in the counties of Kent and Middlesex, as the locations of the alleged treason, Court records show that Anne and the accused were not even in the same surroundings at the same time. Regardless, on May 12th the four commoners, Norris, Weston, Brereton and Smeaton, were tried in Westminster Hall by a Commission of Oyer and Terminer and found guilty in Westminster Hall by the “lords of the Kinges Counsell” (Wriothesley 36).  Judgment was given, that they should be drawn to the place of execution, and some of them to be hanged, others to be beheaded, and all to be quartered, as guilty of high treason” (Burnet 263). All “the gentlemen were beheaded on the Skaffolde at the Tower hyll” (Hall 268). 
A Trial for High Treason, in Westminster Hall, during the Tudor period
A trial for high treason in Westminster Hall during the Tudor period, albeit a 17th century drawing.

Anne’s Letter to King Henry VIII
Henry VIII was the targeted recipient of a letter from Anne while she was in the Tower.  Is it a forgery?  This blogger will not take a position on that issue.  Granted there are unusual circumstances surrounding its discovery. Found with Sir William Kingston’s letters among Cromwell’s papers, scholars have agreed that stylistically it is from the Tudor Era.  Also agreed, the document is not in Anne’s handwriting.  This is not actually a deal breaker since it can easily be explained as being a copy.  At the top of the sheet the letter is “endorsed, ‘To the King from the Ladye in the Tower’ in Cromwell’s handwriting” (Bell 99). It does not make sense why Cromwell would refer to Anne as ‘The Ladye in the Tower’ unless he did not want to call attention to the missive but wanted to preserve it. Because of the location amongst Cromwell’s papers many historians find it plausible to be authored by Anne.

The “pathetical letter” has been described as “farther proof of the innocence” of Anne (Smeeton 48).  She “pleaded her innocence, in a strain of so much wit and moving passionate eloquence, as perhaps can scarce be paralleled: certainly her spirit is were much exalted when she wrote it, for it is a pitch above her ordinary style” (Burnet 319). The “letter contains so much nature, and even elegance, as to deserve to be transmitted to posterity…” (Hume, David 458).  Regardless of her expressiveness, the plea never reached Henry’s hands—maybe she knew that would happen which is why she gave way to her frustration over Jane Seymour and did indulge in some scolding.  Worthy of reading it is reproduced in its entirety below.

“Sir, your grace’s displeasure and my imprisonment are things so strange unto me, as what to write or what to excuse I am altogether ignorant.  Whereas you send unto me (willing me to confess a truth, and so obtain your favour) by such an one whom you know to be mine ancient professed enemy, I no sooner received this message by him than I rightly conceived your meaning; and if as you say, confessing a truth indeed may procure my safety, I shall with all willingness and duty perform your command. 

‘But let not your grace ever imagine that your poor wife will ever be brought to acknowledge a fault where not so much as a thought thereof preceded.  And, to speak a truth, never prince had a wife more loyal in all duty, and in all true affection, than you have ever found in Anne Boleyn: with which name and place I could willingly have contented myself, if God and your grace’s pleasure had been so pleased.  Neither did I at any time so far forget myself in my exaltation or received queenship, but that I always looked for such an alteration as I now find; for the ground of my preferment being on no surer foundation than your grace’s fancy the least alteration I know was fit and suffient to draw that fancy to some other object.  You have chosen me from a low estate to be your queen and companion, far beyond my desert or desire.  If then you found me worthy of such honour, good your grace let not any light fancy, or bad counsel of mine enemies, withdraw your princely favour from me: neither let that stain, that unworthy stain, of a disloyal heart towards your good grace, ever cast so foul a blot on your most dutiful wife and the infant princess your daughter.  Try me, good king, but let me have a lawful trial, and let not my sworn enemies sit as my accusers and judges; yea let me receive an open trial, for my truth shall fear no open shame; then shall you see either mine innocence cleared, your suspicion and conscience satisfied, the ignominy and slander of the world stopped, or my guilt openly declared.  So that whatsoever God or you may determine of me, your grace may be freed from an open censure; and mine offence being so lawfully proved, your grace is at liberty both before God and man not only to execute worthy punishment on me as an unlawful wife, but to follow your affection already settled on that party for whose sake I am now as I am, whose name I could some good while since have pointed unto, your grace not being ignorant of my suspicion therein.

‘But if you have already determined of me, and that not only my death, but an infamous slander, must bring you the enjoying of your desired happiness, then I desire of God that he will pardon your great sin therein, and likewise mine enemies, the instruments thereof, and that he will not call you to a strict account of your unprincely and cruel useage of me, at his general judgment seat, where both you and myself must shortly appear, and in whose judgment I doubt not (whatsoever the world may think of me) mine innocence shall be openly known and sufficiently cleared.

‘My last and only request shall be, that myself may only bear the burden of your grace’s displeaure, and that it may not touch the innocent souls of those poor gentlemen who (as I understand) are likewise in strait imprisonment for my sake.  If ever I have found favour in your sight, if ever the name of Anne Boleyn hath been pleasing in your ears, then let me obtain this request, and I will so leave to trouble your grace any farther, with mine earnest prayer to the Trinity to have your grace his good keeping, and to direct you in all our actions.  From my doleful prison in the Tower, this sixth of May; Your most loyal and ever faithful wife, –Anne Boleyn” (“Condemnation of Anne Boleyn” 289).
Anne Boleyn Hever
Anne Boleyn, Hever Portrait

Trials and Tribulations:
Beyond the accusations of adultery and incest–this charge was brought against her brother “because he had been once found a long time with her” (Gairdner X 908), Anne was “accused of having conspired with these five men to bring about the death of the king, and of having said that she did not love him, and that after his death she would marry one of her lovers”  (Friedmann II 262-263).  The indictment claimed that “despising her marriage, and entertaining malice against the King, and following daily her frail and carnal lust, did falsely and traitorously procure by base conversations and kisses, touchings, gifts, and other infamous incitations, divers of the King’s daily and familiar servants to be her adulterers and concubines, so that several of the King’s servants yielded to her vile provocations” (Gairdner X 876). Whether these were truths, “or the effects of imagination and vapours, cannot be certainly determined at this distance.  It is probable there had been some levities in her carriage that were not becoming” (Burnet 111).

‘Levities in her carriage’—the Council’s reaction to indiscretions seems rather severe to modern eyes.  This is why it is difficult for present day students to grasp the magnitude of Henry’s personality, the strength of his sycophantic Court and the effects of the social, political and religious institutions of the Tudor Era. Could Anne have been divorced and set aside as her successor Anne of Cleves would be?  Most likely not.  Anne of Cleves had powerful international connections which made her survival more important; she did not have any children who needed to be clearly shown as illegitimate; and she followed Anne Boleyn—circumstances were altered because of what happened in 1536. Henry, and more importantly Cromwell, saw the need to eliminate Anne Boleyn, destroy her reputation, weaken the powerful factions at Court and send a message to the world—Henry VIII was in control in England (Okay, based on the charges against Anne, he could not control his wife, but assuredly no one was going to make that connection to him).

On May 15, 1536, the Queen was brought into the King’s Hall of the Tower of London “where was made a chaire for her to sitt downe in, and then her indictment was redd” (Bell 102).  Anne was arraigned “for treason againste the Kinges owne person” (Wriothesley 37).  The crimes charged on her were that “she had procured, her brother and the other four to lie with her, which they had done often; that she had said to every one of them by themselves, that she loved them better than any person whatsoever: which was to slander the issue that was begotten between the king and her and this was treason, according to the statute made in the twenty sixth year of this reign….  It was also added in the indictment, that she and her accomplices had conspired the king’s death” (Burnet 263-264). Ales claimed the Queen had been “accused of having danced in the bedroom with the gentlemen of the King’s chamber and of having kissed her brother” (Stevenson 1303).  Chapuys reported that “there was a promise between her and Norris to marry after the King’s death,” she had “laughed at the King and his dress,” and “certain ballads that the King composed” were snickered at by Anne and her brother “as foolish things, which was objected to as a great crime” (Gairdner X 908).

Court proceedings were not conducted in secret for there were more than 2,000 persons present and documents exist in the Public Records Office which show the trial was conducted “with a scrupulousness without a parallel in the criminal records of the time” (Bell 103).  Twenty-six peers tried Anne and George Boleyn with the Duke of Norfolk acting as Lord High Steward accompanied by “the duke of Suffolk, the marquis of Exeter, the earls of Arundel, Oxford, Northumberland, Westmoreland, Derby, Worcester, Rutland, Sussex, and Huntington; and the Lords Audley, Delaware, Montague, Morley, Dacres, Cobham, Maltravers, Powis, Mounteagle, Clinton, Sands, Windsor, Wentworth, Burgh, and Mordaunt” (Burnet 263-264).  For details of the trial see materials by Bell, Burnet, Cavendish, Friedmann and Howell to name a few.  This blog entry will direct comments to specific areas of interest.

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Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, Anne’s uncle and judge

Obviously the verdict was a foregone conclusion.  Though unassisted by counsel, Anne “made so wise and discreete aunsweres to all thinges layde against her, excusinge herselfe with her wordes so clearlie, as thoughe she had never bene faultie to the same” (Wriothesley 37-38).  She defended herself so well “the spectators could not forbear pronouncing her entirley innocent” (Hume 328).  Alas, it was for naught.  Not only was it Henry’s will that Anne be found guilty but logically with her trial coming after four men had been found culpable of adultery with her, the chances of her being reprieved were non-existent no matter what the evidence or lack thereof.

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An engraving of Anne Boleyn’s trial by Kearney from a painting by Smirk

The Commission could not bring Smeaton, the only person who confessed to a crime, forward to confront the Queen because he had been convicted three days earlier and could not be used as a witness.  Therefore, the evidence brought in was hearsay and unsubstantiated.  Many historians have discussed the role of Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford (Anne’s jealous sister-in-law); Lady Bridget Wingfield (a lady of the bedchamber who had died in 1534–the evidence used was a letter written by Bridget to someone else about Anne); and, Elizabeth Browne, Countess of Worcester (Anne’s lady-in-waiting who initiated infidelity rumors in early 1536).  “From such arguments as those which were advanced against the Queen … no probable suspicion of adultery could be collected” (Stevenson 1303).

“Rochford was said to have been arrested for having connived at his sister’s evil deeds” (Friedmann II 256) and for “having spread reports which called in question whether his sister’s daughter was the King’s child” (Gairdner X 908). This last accusation is preposterous!  Why would a man whose very livelihood depended on his royal connections infer his niece was not of royal blood?  Interestingly, Chapuys, no friend to the Boleyns, claimed that Rochford defended himself against the charges so well “several of those present wagered 10 to 1 that he would be acquitted, especially as no witnesses were produced” (Gairdner X 908).  Acquittal was not in the plans.  The Bishop of Carlisle told Chapuys that the “King had said to him, among other things, that he had long expected the issue of these affairs” (Gairdner X 908).

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Signature of George Boleyn, Lord Rochford

For References, please refer to Path to St. Peter ad Vincular Part I

Friend, Cousin, Brother? Part I

Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon Part I

Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon was born 4 March 1526 to Mary Boleyn and William Carey who married on 4 February 1520.  Mary was the eldest daughter of Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire and Lady Elizabeth Howard, eldest daughter of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk. Mary was the sister to Anne Boleyn, second wife to Henry VIII.

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 Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon

Mary Boleyn, was born most likely at Blickling Hall and reared at Hever Castle; with no evidence of an exact date for her birth most historians place it in the year 1499. Mary, tutored at home along with her siblings George and Anne, received a conventional education until 1514.  Her father arranged for her to become a maid-of-honor to Mary Tudor, sister to Henry VIII, who was soon to become the bride of King Louis XII of France. Mary Tudor was widowed shortly after her wedding and returned home. Mary Boleyn’s reputation through generations has implied affairs with French courtiers and even the new King of France Francis I.  Mary Boleyn became a maid-of-honor to Catherine of Aragon and shortly after wed Sir William Carey.  It was believed that she began an affair with King Henry around this time.  This was not a publicized liaison but the evidence is difficult to shift through.  Was the relationship not well-known at the time or was it suppressed later?  After Henry VIII had discarded Catherine due to the rise in his conscience of marrying the wife of his brother (against scripture Leviticus 20:21), could he have destroyed all evidence of an affair once he became determined to marry Anne?  If he had fathered children by Mary, would he also have repressed those facts? 

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Blickling Hall June 2012

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Hever Castle 2007

Evidence is strong that Henry VIII did have an affair with Mary Boleyn.  Paul Friedmann relays that Dr. Ortiz, the Spanish theologian sent to Rome to assist the cause of Catherine of Aragon, “wrote to the empress, ‘that some time ago he [Henry] sent to ask his holiness for a dispensation to marry her, notwithstanding the affinity between them on account of his having committed adultery with her sister.’ In 1529 Charles V had already heard of the matter. Charles declared that Henry’s conscientious scruples did not seem to be justified, especially ‘if it were true, as his said Majesty had heard (although he himself would not positively affirm it), that the said king had kept company with the sister of her whom he now, it was stated, wanted to marry.’ In 1532, Eustache Chapuis speaks of the former adultery of Henry with Mary Boleyn as a well-known fact of which there can be no doubt. ‘Even if,’ he writes, ‘he could separate from the queen, he could not have her [Anne], for he has had to do with her sister.’ Such, in the main, are the arguments for the opinion that Mary Carey had been the mistress of Henry” (Friedmann 325-327).

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Mary Boleyn Carey                               William Carey

Of course, there is the famous incident of Sir George Throgmorton speaking to the king of the rumor that Henry had improper relations with Anne’s mother and sister, and “Henry replied, ‘Never with the mother;’ and Cromwell, who was present, added, ‘Nor with the sister either.’” (Friedman 326).  Could even Henry VIII have been such a hypocrite to justify marriage to Anne Boleyn after he had discarded Catherine of Aragon for being the wife of his brother? One must remember, Henry desperately wanted to marry Anne.

Another rumor passed down through the centuries is that Henry Carey was the natural son of Henry VIII.  If this were true, would the king have recognized the boy as such?  After all, Henry had acknowledged Henry FitzRoy, the child he had with Elizabeth Blount, and rewarded him accordingly. The difference is the king did not want to marry Elizabeth Blount’s sister.  Would measures have been taken at the time to suppress the truth?  Even if Henry had acknowledged Mary’s child, would he have disposed of all official records two to three years later when he became infatuated with Anne?

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Henry FitzRoy

Allison Weir is adamant that Henry did not father Mary Boleyn Carey’s child (Weir Lady in the Tower 309-310). This blogger also wonders if Anne would have obligingly taken the wardship of Henry Carey when William Carey died if she thought he could be a threat to her own children as an illegitimate son to the king?  Very few contemporary sources mention this possibility.  John Haile*, vicar of Isleworth, wrote on April 20, 1535, that Morever, Mr. Skydmore dyd show to me yongge Master Care, saying that he was our suffren Lord the Kynge’s son by our suffren Lady the Qwyen’s syster, whom the Qwyen’s grace might not suffer to be yn the Cowrte” (Hoskins).

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John Haile 

Mary’s disgrace came in 1534 when she secretly married a soldier, William Stafford.  As a second son of a modestly wealthy landowner, William’s prospects were not great. Queen Anne was furious and banished her sister from Court.  After her siblings were executed in 1536, her parents died within a short time period.  As sole heir Mary then inherited some family property.  She lived comfortably and quietly until her death in July of 1543. 

thomas boleyn        elboleyn
Thomas Boleyn                          Believed to be Elizabeth Boleyn

When William Carey died of the sweating sickness 23 June 1528, Anne Bolyen was granted Henry’s wardship. He benefited enormously as Anne had him educated by “Nicholas Bourbon, a French humanist and other prominent educators” (Warnicke 148).  This patronage came to an end when Anne was executed in May of 1536; Henry was ten years old. 

Anne Morgan, the daughter of Sir Thomas Morgan and Anne Whitney, was his bride on 21 May 1545.  The couple would eventually have 12 children. In 1547, Henry was elected as a member of Parliament for Buckingham where he served for many years.  During the reign of Edward VI, he received several manors to provide a living for him and his family.  Soon after the accession of Elizabeth Regina, Henry received a knighthood (his wife was appointed as a Lady of the Privy Chamber) and was elevated to the peerage by letters patent, as Baron Hunsdon. Along with the peerage was a grant of the estate of Hunsdon in Hertfordshire and a pension of £4,000 a year “(according to the valuation in that age) in fair desmesnes, parks, and lands lying about it” (Fuller 47). 

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Anne Morgan, Lady Hunsdon, portrait is displayed at Hatfield House

*John Haile was one of the first priests to die as a result of the Act of Supremacy (not acknowledging Henry VIII as Head of the Church).  He, along with several others, was hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn on 4 May 1535. Haile was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1886.

Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon Part II will follow as the next published blog entry.

Said it, Believed it, Lived it

Said it, Believed it, Lived it:  Mottoes of Elizabeth Regina

A motto is a short sentence or phrase used to formally summarize or encapsulate the beliefs, motivations, intentions or ideals of an individual, group or institution. Often the motto can become a rule by which someone lives her or his life.  Although a motto can be in any language, Latin is the one mostly used in the Western world.

William Camden, an Officer of Arms under Queen Elizabeth who wrote a history of her reign at the suggestion of Lord Burghley, William Cecil, has become an excellent source for emblems and heraldic arms of the Tudor era although he does not always quote the motto nor offer explanations (Daly 5).  Camden has given his ideal of a motto accompanying heraldry.  He assures us that the picture is the body “and the Motto, which as the soul giveth it life.  That is, the body must be of fair representation, and the word in some different language, witty, short, and answerable thereunto; neither too obscure, nor too plain, and most commended when it is an Hemistich, or parcel of a verse” (Camden Remaines 366-367).

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Coat of Arms of Henry VIII

An official definition of motto is as follows: “A sentence added to a device (Ital. –L) L. muttium, mutter, a grunt, a muttered sound; cf. mutire, muttire, to mutter, mumble” (Skeat 387).  Therefore, in heraldry, a motto is shown on a shield as part of a coat of arms.  In English heraldry in particular, the motto is not granted with the armorial bearings and can be changed. 

Members of Tudor upper society certainly embraced the custom of using mottoes and “subjects adopted them as expressions of loyalty” (Cannon 253).  Below are briefly the mottoes of Henry VIII, his wives and his children with expanded explanations on the mottoes of Elizabeth and her mother, Anne Boleyn to follow.

Tudor Mottoes                      

Henry VIII     Dieu et mon droit  —God and my right

Katherine of Aragon     Humble and loyal

Anne Boleyn     The Most Happy                                                                                                 
Jane Seymour     Bound to Obey and Serve

Anne of Cleves     God send me well to keep

Catherine Howard     Non aultrevolontè que le sinne  —No other will than his

Katherine Parr     To be useful in all I do

Edward VI     Dieu et mon droit  —God and my right
                      Modus et Ordo   —Method and Order

Mary I    Veritas filia temporis   —Truth, daughter of time

Elizabeth Regina     Semper Eadem  — Always the Same
                                   Video et taceo   —I see and say nothing

Royal British mottoes can be a bit confusing.  All Knights of the Garter may use the motto, Honi soit qui mal y pense, [Shamed be he who thinks evil of it] added to their heraldry.  Also, the sovereign will use, Dieu et mon droit, [God and my right] on a scroll beneath the shield of the royal coat of arms.  This motto has been attributed to Richard I Lionheart as a battle cry and has been used officially since the time of Henry V.  Obviously, this refers to the monarchs’ divine right to rule.

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Clock given to Anne Boleyn by Henry VIII at the time of their marriage.  The weights are engraved with the initials ‘H’ and ‘A’ and also the mottoes “Dieu et Mon Droit” and “The Most Happy”.

Alternatively, the Royal Arms may depict a monarch’s or consort’s personal motto and may appear on many buildings, possessions, documents, and in more modern times on products—those purveyors who have earned the Royal Warrant.  More on that topic in another blog entry.  Often its use is done for dynastic glorification as illustrated in the cup Henry VIII commissioned by Hans Holbein as a wedding gift to Jane Seymour.  Jane’s motto “Bound to obey and serve” is repeated on the lid and on the base.  The bridal pair’s initials adorned the cup. “Its submissive tone was fairly typical for queen consorts, but it also reflects Jane’s personality and helps explain why she was so attractive to Henry” (Doran Man & Monarch 189).

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Cup designed by Hans Holbein for Jane Seymour with her motto on the lid and base

Reigning between queens with mottoes conveying humility and obedience-Katherine of Aragon’s “Humble and loyal” and Jane’s “Bound to obey and serve”-comes Anne Boleyn whose motto was the bold “The most happy”.  Anne adopted this motto as her coronation approached.  She had reason to be “the moost happi”: she had married a supportive and affectionate Henry, she was expecting his child (convinced it was the longed-for male heir), and she had managed to institute several religious changes in the country.

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Anne Boleyn’s medal inscribed around with THE MOOST HAPPI ANNO 1534 and A.R. for Anne Regina next to her portrait

Although some sources attribute the motto “Me and mine” to Anne, this blogger never found true evidence of it.  One motto she adopted in 1530 before she was queen, Aisi sera groigne qui groigne meaning “Let them grumble; that is how it is going to be!” (Ives 141).  This motto had quite a story attached to it.

Paul Friedman was quoting Pascual de Gayangos’ Calendar of State Papers, Spain Vol. 4, Part 2, page 41, which stated that Anne, to show her “contempt for those who opposed her, chose a device which she had heard in France, but which she only partially remembered, Ainsi sera, groigne qui groign! was embroidered on the liveries of her servants” (Friedman 128).  Her arrogance and defiance did not last long.
To her mortification, and to Eustace Chapuys’ glee, she learned that she had “adopted the motto of her bitter enemies, the princes of the house of Burgundy.  ‘Groigne qui groigne’, she heard it repeated, “et vive Bourgoigne!’ The liveries had to be laid aside, and Anne’s servants on Christmas Day appeared in their old doublets” (Friedman 128).

Such a blatant alteration of an Imperialist motto was hardly the way to win supporters at Court and gain Anne acceptance as the replacement of a highly-respected Habsburg queen (Ives 142-143).

The Anne Boleyn Cup. This 16th century gilded silver goblet was given to Dr Richard  Masters by Anne Boleyn, and Dr Masters presented it to the church.
The Boleyn cup 1535-36 in St. John the Baptist Church in Cirencester with motto “The Most Happy.”  Elizabeth inherited this beautiful from her mother and in turn gave it to her physician Richard Master who presented it to the church.

Another motto, Semper eadem, [Always the same], was said to be used by Anne (Weir 324). This blogger could not find primary source evidence to support Anne’s use of this maxim. It was a well-known motto adopted by Anne’s daughter, Elizabeth, when she became queen.  This particular motto appears to be associated with the quality of constancy.  Elizabeth’s constancy can be shown in her willingness to maintain a steadfast government during the transition between her reign and her sister’s.  See the blog entry  https://elizregina.com/2013/04/09/reigned-with-your-loves/ for a list of Marian councilors retained by Elizabeth. Perhaps Elizabeth adopted it for simply sentimental reasons to form a link to her mother.  Another view of this motto reveals it to be a pledge that Elizabeth would not change her religious faith (Collinson 1549).

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Coat of Arms of Elizabeth Regina with motto, Semper eadem.

With the childhood fraught with uncertainty and constant change perhaps this motto was a rule in which Elizabeth preferred to live.  It does imply an avoidance of any surprise, uncertainty or disruption.  Could a sovereign associated with such changes that supported exploration, encouraged the Arts and introduced religious reform prefer the status quo?

William Camden deemed Elizabeth’s main care upholding the Protestant faith and her “second care was, to hold an even course in her whole life, and all her actions: whereupon she tooke for her Motto, Semper eadem, that is, Alwayes the same.  The rest of her counsels consisted in these points” (Camden Annales 20). There is some disconnect between this motto and her well-known impulsiveness, indecision and secrecy.

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 Shield and motto of Queen Elizabeth I by Simon de Passe in the NPG Collection

NPG D42191; Queen Elizabeth I by Simon de Passe, after  Isaac Oliver
 Elizabeth I–obverse of shield and motto line engraving in the NPG collection

Elizabeth’s habit of covering her actions and motives was admired by Camden. When explaining her second motto, Camden discussed her methods “Which notwithstanding Queene Elizabeth dissembled and concealed with silence, according to that motto which she used, video et taceo, that is, I see and say nothing” (Camden Annales 307).

“I see and say nothing” has been termed a political motto used by Elizabeth.  With her impressive humanist education, this motto could be of ancient historical significance or it could be a practical methodology employed by Elizabeth.  No sources that this blogger has discovered definitively explain Elizabeth’s selection of this motto.  An examination of them suggests a link to the equation of Elizabeth’s style with Cicero’s, an acquired maxim from Lady Tyrwhitt, a reflection of her moderate religious policy or a connection to Francis Walsingham’s spy network. More recent authors have interpreted that the use of Elizabeth’s mottoes, Video et taceo, and Semper eadem “alludes to an important feature of prudence, which is that it encompasses the knowledge of when to speak and when to keep quiet” (Broad 34).

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The Plimpton “Sieve” Portrait of Elizabeth  I, by George Gower, 1579.  The sieve alludes to the myth of Tuccia, a roman Vestal Virgin who proved her virginity and prudence by carrying water with a sieve.  The coat of arms and the motto in the top right Honi soit qui mal y pense / Semper eadem [Shamed be he who thinks evil of it / Always the same] are the motto of the Order of the Garter and the personal motto of Elizabeth Regina.

What does come to mind to this blogger is the ‘Rainbow’ portrait of Elizabeth with the eyes and ears embroidered on her gown.  The poet John Davies refers to the ears and eyes as how the Queen uses her servants for a sketch he wrote during the Queen’s visit to William Cecil’s house, Theobalds, in 1591.  When asked what use Elizabeth makes of her servants the reply was “She makes the same use of them as the mynde makes of the sences.  Many things she sees and heares through them; but the judgment and election is her owne” (Nichols 77).  Elizabeth clarified her right to rule and have good counsel early in her reign, “I shall desire you all, my lords, (chiefly you the nobility, everyone in his degree and power) to be assistant to me that I, with my ruling, and you with your service, may make a good account to Almighty God and leave some comfort to our posterity on earth.  I mean to direct all my actions by good advice and councel” (Marcus 52).  Through further research I discovered this idea of Elizabeth’s relationship with her advisors and her motto was further explored by Mary Thomas Crane.

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The “Rainbow” portrait attributed to Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, 1600-1603.

Professor Crane begins her article “Although one of her mottoes, ‘semper eadem,’ seems to claim a fundamental unity of character, Queen Elizabeth I nevertheless presents us with an array of poses and personae” (Crane 1).  How true.  Students of Elizabeth Regina are familiar with her paradoxically presenting an image of absolute patriarchal power and one of a ‘weak and feeble woman’. How did Elizabeth maneuver within the Privy Council composed of men whose views were the by-products of a time period when authority and advice-giving were the realm of males?  This was an era that considered “Kings were creatures defined by ancient custom; but queens, however loved and admired, were unpredictable” (Loades 318).

The use of the term ‘video’ assures that Elizabeth will listen and evaluate the advice to make up her own mind, as opposed to ‘audio’ that implies she will “accept blindly her advisors’ spoken counsel” (Crane 2).  In an era when women were to remain silent and obedient, ‘taceo’ insinuates that “as queen, she will maintain the silence thought suitable for a woman …” (Crane 2).  The motto encapsulates the fine line Elizabeth struck between asserting her authority and accepting advice from her Council.

She could be silent and allow her statesmen such as Burghley the role of respected advisor and she could be vocal and affirm her authority.  Crane sees Elizabeth’s motto, Video et taceo, as more of the way she uses the political system and her “use of the paradigm of advice-giving reveals a woman who was less completely bound by male structures than some critics have argued” (Crane 2).  Elizabeth “despite her motto, did not always remain silent….  Her skillful use of the humanist rhetoric of authoritative counsel allowed her to break silence and speak the language of authority as a uniquely powerful woman in a man’s world” (Crane 12).

One can suppose she did not believe her own contradiction to her motto when she  teasingly responded to the French Ambassador after he had praised her linguistic skills,  “There is no marvel in a woman learning to speak, but there would be in teaching her to hold her tongue.”

References

Allison, Ronald and Sarah Riddell, editors. The Royal Encyclopedia. London: Macmillian Press, 1991. Print.

“Arms of Tudors; Arms of Henry VIII; Arms of Edward VI.” Victoria and Albert Museum Collections. Victoria and Albert Museum, n.d. Web. 17 June 2013.

Broad, Jacqueline and Karen Green. Virtue, Liberty, and Toleration: Political Ideas of European Women, 1400-1800.  Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer, 2007. Google Books. Web 21 Jun 2013.

Camden, William, Robert Norton, Nicholas Hillard, and Francis Delaram. Annales or the History of the Most Renowned and Victorious Princesse Elizabeth Late Queen of England, Containing All the Important and Remarkable Passages of State, Both at Home and Abroad, during Her Long Ans Prosperous Reigne. Trans. R. N. Gent. 3rd ed. London: Harper, 1635. Google Books. Web. 21 June 2013.

Camden, William. Remaines concerning Brittaine: But Especially England, and the Inhabitants Thereof: Their Languages, Names, Syrnames, Allusions, Anagrammes, Armories, Moneys, Empresses, Apparell, Artillerie, Wise Speeches, Prouerbes, Poesies, Epitaphs. London,: Simon Waterson, 1605. Google Books. Web. 21 June 2013.

Cannon, John and Ralph Griffiths. The Oxford Illustrated History of the British Monarchy.  Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 1988. Print.

Collinson, Patrick. Elizabeth I. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. Google Books. Web. 16 June 2013.

Crane, Mary Thomas. “Video Et Taceo”: Elizabeth I and the Rhetoric of Counsel.” Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 28.1 (1988): 1-15. GeoCities, 2001. Web. 20 June 2013.

Daly, Peter, Leslie Duer, Anthony Raspa. The English emblem tradition. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998. Google Books. Web. 21 June 2013.

“Death Could Not Separate Them: How Elizabeth I Connected to Her Deceased Mother.” Web log comment. Being Bess. Ed. Ashlie Jensen. N.p., 5 Aug. 2012. Web. 20 June 2013.

Doran, Susan.  Henry VIII:  Man & Monarch. London:  British Library, 2009. Print.

Doran, Susan.  The Tudor Chronicles 1485-1603.  New York:  Metro Books, 2008. Print.

Eakins, Laura. “Elizabeth I’s other motto.” TudorHistory. Google+Page, 20 Feb. 2012. Web. 17 June 2013.

Eakins, Laura. “Meaning of Anne Boleyn’s motto.” TudorHistory. Google+Page, 31 Dec. 2009. Web. 19 June 2013.

Friedmann, Paul.  Anne Boleyn: A Chapter of English History 1527-1536. London: Macmillian and Co., 1884. Internet Archive. Web. 21 Jun 2013.

de Gayangos, Pascual (editor). “Spain: January 1531, 21-31.” Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 4 Part 2: 1531-1533 (1882): 31-47. British History Online. Web. 22 June 2013. 

Isaacs, Alan and Jennifer Monk, editors.  The Illustrated Dictionary of British Heritage.  London:  Promotional reprint Company, 1993. Print.

Skeat, Walter W. An etymological dictionary of the English language. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993. Print.

Ives, Eric.  The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn: The Most Happy. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004. Print.

Loades, D. M. Elizabeth I. London: Palgrave Macmillilan, 2003. Google Books. Web. 16 June 2013.

Lloyd, Christopher and Simon Thurley. Henry VIII:  Images of a Tudor King.  London: Phaidon Press Limited, 1990.  Print.

“Medallion:  Arms of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour” Victoria and Albert Museum Collections. Victoria and Albert Museum, n.d. Web. 17 June 2013. 

Nichols, John. The Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth. Among Which Are Interspersed Other Solemnities, Public Expenditures, and Remarkable Events during the Reign of That Illustrious Princess. Collected from Original MSS., Scarce Pamphlets, Corporation Records, Parochial Registers, &c., &c.: Illustrated with Historical Notes. New York: B. Franklin, Vol 3, 1823. Google Books. Web. 19 Jan. 2013.

Ross, Josephine.  The Tudors, England’s Golden Age.  London: Artus, 1994.  Print. 

Starkey, David.  Henry VIII:  A European Court in England. New York:  Cross River Press, 1991. Print.

Strong, Roy C. Gloriana: The Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I. London: Pimlico, 2003. Print.

Wagner, John. Historical Dictionary of the Elizabethan World: Britain, Ireland, Europe, and America.  New York:  Checkmark Books, 2002. Print.

Warnicke, Retha.  The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn: Family Politics at the Court of Henry VIII. Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1989.  Print.

The Third Step-Mother to Elizabeth, Catherine Howard

The Third Step-Mother to Elizabeth, Catherine Howard

Henry was infatuated with Catherine Howard.  At Oatlands the two were married on July 28 a couple of weeks after Henry’s marriage to Anne of Cleves was dissolved. The King kept it a secret for many days because he wanted to enjoy his bride before Court etiquette interfered.

He showered his young bride with gifts, gowns, jewels, anything she wanted and did any act which would show his affection.  Henry granted Catherine all the lands that had been Queen Jane’s and even had a gold half-crown coin minted to commemorate his marriage to this perfection of womanhood with Henricus VIII, Rutilans rosa sine spina; “Henry VIII, the shining rose without a thorn” (Dye 771).  Henry also granted her political protection by passing through parliament the Queen Consort Act of 1540.  This legislation allowed the Queen to “act as a woman sole, without the consent of the King’s Highness” (Weir 436).  Perhaps Henry felt safe in her devotion as Catherine adopted as her device, Non aultre volontè que le sinne; “No other will than his.”

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Gold Crown Coin with Henricus VIII, Rutilans rosa sine spina —the reverse the crown shield of the royal coat of arms.  

Many observers did not think he showed such generosity or affection to his other wives.  The French Ambassador, Charles de Marillac reported in early September that the “King is so amourous of her that he cannot treat her well enough and caresses her more than he did the others”  (Gairdner XVI 5).

The new queen was still a teenager.  Most historians calculate that she was about 15 when 49-year-old Henry married her.  Physically, Charles de Marillac described Catherine as “rather graceful than beautiful, of short stature, etc.” (Gairdner XVI 5).

Catherine howared02        catherine howard3
Miniature by Hans Holbein                 After Hans Holbein

Was Catherine, personality-wise, a “frivolous, empty-headed young girl who cared for little else but dancing and pretty clothes” (Weir 434)?  Was she simply captivating, pleasant and kind-hearted enough to want everyone to be happy?  Perhaps she did let things go to her head and recklessness took center-stage but one could not call her scheming, “lewd, sly, pitiable” (Sitwell 53).  It does appear as if Catherine was charming, sensual and obedient–a great combination for Henry.

Catherine Howard / Elizabeth Seymour
Also attributed to Hans Holbein

Not only was Henry delighted with his new bride, Elizabeth, Catherine’s seven-year-old stepdaughter, was too.  When Catherine was publicly acknowledged by Henry as his queen, “she directed that the princess Elizabeth should be placed opposite to her at table, because she was of her own blood and lineage.”  At all the public engagements which continued to celebrate the marriage, Catherine “gave the lady Elizabeth the place of honour nearest to her own person” because, according to Gregorio Leti, “that she [Elizabeth] was her cousin” (Strickland Lives of the Queens of England, from the Norman Conquest 15-16).  Elizabeth Boleyn, Anne’s mother, was a sister to Edmund Howard, Catherine’s father (and to Thomas Howard, Third Duke of Norfolk), so they were first cousins.  Elizabeth Regina would technically have been Catherine’s first cousin once removed.

thomas howard norfolk
Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk

Catherine did not only favor Elizabeth when they were residing in the same palaces, she made a point for the two of them to meet.  Based on account records from the Master of the Barge, it has been shown that on 5 May 1541 Catherine arranged that Elizabeth would be taken from Suffolk Place to Chelsea where she, Catherine joined her on 6 May (Gairdner XVI 391). 

Besides the attention Catherine showed her youngest step-daughter she also gave her presents of jewelry as shown in November of 1541.  Records show that she gave a jewel “to lady Elizabeth, the King’s daughter, being …of little thing worth.”  Regardless of the value, it was a kind gesture as when Catherine had “23 pairs of beads minutely described, with crosses, pillars, and tassels attached. One is marked as given by the Queen to lady Elizabeth, the King’s daughter” (Gairdner XVI 686).

Catherine Howard’s fall came after John Lascelles revealed to Archbishop Cranmer the Queen’s sexual activity during her years at the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk’s estate. The Dowager was Catherine’s step-grandmother.  Like all children of aristocratic families, Catherine and her eleven siblings, were sent to other households at young ages.  Included in the Norfolk household was Lascelles’ sister, Mary Hall, who knew of the goings on in the maid’s dormitory.  Many of the young women ‘entertained’ men after hours and Catherine was one of them.  She was about 13 at the time and had a physical relationship with Francis Dereham–after earlier being involved with her music teacher, Henry Manox.

Cranmer took the information very seriously.  Political, religious and social motivations were all involved here as Catherine was a conservative and Lascelles and Cranmer were Protestants.  Cranmer began a full investigation which led to allegations of Catherine’s being intimate with Thomas Culpeper, a member of the king’s privy chamber, after her marriage to Henry.

Thomas_Cranmer
Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer

Under interrogation (read that as some type of torture most likely), Culpeper admitted to being in love with Catherine, that she had rebuffed him at first then grew to love him.  Culpeper “persisted in denying his guilt and said it was the Queen who, through lady Rocheford, solicited him to meet her in private in Lincolnshire, when she herself told him that she was dying for his love” (Gairdner XVI 651-652).  The prisoner said that although they spent time alone and in private, they never committed adultery.  This did not matter.  The Council felt there was enough evidence:  Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, Catherine’s Lady-in-Waiting, professed to have helped them arrange their meetings and implied she guessed there was a physical relationship between them (Her cooperation did not save her. Rochford was executed as an accomplice.) and, most importantly, a letter from Catherine found in Culpeper’s belongings.  The letter is reproduced below.

jane parkerboylen
Jane Parker Boleyn, Lady Rochford

Master Coulpeper, I hertely recomend me unto youe praying you to 
sende me worde how that you doo. Yt was showed me that you was
sike, the wyche thynge trobled me very muche tell suche tyme that I
here from you praying you to send me worde how that you do.
For I never longed so muche for [a] thynge as I do to se you and
to speke wyth you, the wyche I trust shal be shortely now, the
wyche dothe comforthe me verie much whan I thynk of ett and
wan I thynke agan that you shall departe from me agayne
ytt makes my harte to dye to thynke what fortune I have
that I cannot be always yn your company. Y[e]t my trust ys
allway in you that you wolbe as you have promysed me
and in that hope I truste upon styll, prayng you than that
you wyll com whan my lade Rochforthe ys here, for then
I shalbe beste at leaysoure to be at your commarendmant.
Thaynkyng you for that you have promysed me to be so
good unto that pore felowe my man, whyche is on of the
grefes that I do felle to departe from hym for than I do
know noone that I dare truste to sende to you and therfor
I pray you take hym to be wyth you that I may sumtym
here from you one thynge. I pray you to gyve me a horse
for my man for I hyd muche a do to gat one and
thefer I pray sende me one by hym and yn so doying I
am as I sade afor, and thus I take my leve of you
trusting to se you s[h]orttele agane and I wode you was
wythe me now that yoo maitte se what pane I take
yn wryte[n]g to you.

Yours as long as
lyffe endures
Katheryn

One thyng I had forgotten and that hys to instruct my man to tare here wyt[h] me still, for he sas wat so mever you bed hym he wel do et and […]

When the King was notified of the accusations by a document left for him in his church pew, his anger knew no bounds.  He supposedly called for a sword to slay her himself as she would never have “such delight in her inconstancy as she would have torture in her death” (Hibbert 23).

Catherine was arrested at Hampton Court and moved shortly afterwards to Syon House.  She was there until February 11, 1542, when she was taken by barge to the Tower of London.  On Sunday the 12th she was told to prepare herself for death.  In a dispatch to his king, Chapuys conveyed that “she asked to have the block brought in to her, that she might know how to place herself; which was done, and she made trial of it.”  On February 1542, Marillac reported, she was beheaded on Tower Green by axe “after the manner of the country. The Queen was so weak that she could hardly speak, but confessed in few words that she had merited a hundred deaths for so offending the King who had so graciously treated her” (Gairdner XVI 44).  Chapuys let Charles V know that Catherine was executed “in the same spot where Anne Boleyn had been executed. Her body was then covered [with a black cloak] and her ladies took it away” (Gairdner XVII 51).

syon remnant gothic
Gothic ornamentation remnant from  Syon

No records survive of Elizabeth’s reactions to the sudden loss of any of her step-mothers.  Elizabeth was too young to be greatly affected by the death of Jane Seymour and her only living step-mother, Anne of Cleves, she still had contact with.  What impact would it have had on Elizabeth?  Could we go as far as Anne Somerset working from the text of Larissa J. Taylor-Smither’s article, “Elizabeth I: A Psychological Profile” to say that the “shock of Catherine Howard’s execution (when Elizabeth was at the impressionable age of eight) would have been more immediate, for even if Elizabeth had not been especially close to her young stepmother, Catherine’s sudden extinction must at the very least have had a powerful effect on her subconscious” (Somerset 96).  With no recorded evidence of Elizabeth’s reaction, nor any evidence of altered personality traits or behavior, this blogger thinks it is best to refrain from any such speculation.  

Henry’s reaction to Catherine’s death was made clear. Shortly after her execution, Chapuys wrote that the King has been in better spirits and during the last three days before Lent there has been much feasting (Gairdner XVII 51).  Henry found himself in an unusual position—that of widower.  Anne Boleyn’s death occurred after he had dissolved their marriage so this was the first time he was widowed.

Chapuys, the Spanish Ambassador, reported to his Imperial colleague, Nicolas Granvelle, that Henry “felt the case of the Queen, his wife, and has certainly shown greater sorrow at her loss than at the faults, loss, or divorce of his preceding wives.”  He cites a parable of the widow who cries most bitterly at the death of her tenth husband because she had always been sure of the next.  Chapuys speculates this is the same with Henry as “it does not seem that he has formed any new plan”(Gairdner XVI 653).

nicolas-granvelle
Nicholas Granvelle

Henry, most diplomats and contemporaries assumed, would soon enough be taken up with his matrimonial status.  Charles de Marillac did not mince words to Francis I when he observed “It is not yet said who will be Queen; but the common voice is that this King will not be long without a wife, for the great desire he has to have further issue” (Gairdner XVI 44).  While Eustace Chapuys explained to Charles V that “Parliament prays him to take another wife, he will not, I think, be in a hurry to marry; besides, few, if any, ladies now at Court would aspire to such an honour, for a law has just been passed that should any King henceforth wish to marry a subject, the lady will be bound, on pain of death, to declare if any charges of misconduct can be brought against her, and all who know or suspect anything of the kind against her are bound to reveal it within 20 days, on pain of confiscation of goods and imprisonment for life” (Gairdner XVII 50).

The King was ensuring that his next bride would not put him in a position of uncertainty which would give cause for him to receive any other letters such as the sympathetic, comforting one from his fellow sovereign, Francis I of France.  Francis proclaimed to Henry, concerning Catherine’s behavior, that he “feels the grief of the King, his brother, as his own. Still his good brother should consider that the lightness of women cannot bind the honor of men and that the shame is confined to those who commit the crime” (Gairdner XVI 649).

francisi
King Francis I of France

Even though his matrimonial record was not smooth, King Henry VIII  was not deterred from acquiring another bride. In a relatively short amount of time, he had provided his children with a new step-mother.

References

Denny, Joanna.  Katherine Howard:  A Tudor Conspiracy.  London: Portrait, 2005. Print.

Dye, John S. Dye’s Coin Encyclopædia: A Complete Illustrated History of the Coins of the World. Philadelphia: Bradley & Co., 1883. Google Books. Web. 12 May 2013.

Erickson, Carolly. The First Elizabeth. New York: Summit Books. 1983. Print.

Fraser, Antonia.  The Wives of Henry VIII.  New York:  Alfred A. Knopf, 1992. Print.

Gairdner, James and R. H. Brodie (editors). “Henry VIII: December 1541, 11-20.” Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 16: 1540-1541 (1898): 671-681. British History Online. Web. 12 May 2013.

Gairdner, James and R. H. Brodie (editors). “Henry VIII: January 1542, 1-10.” Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 17: 1542 (1900): 1-9. British History Online. Web. 12 May 2013.

Hibbert, Christopher.  The Virgin Queen: Elizabeth I, Genius of the Golden Age.  New York: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc., 1991.  Print.

Hume, Martin. The Wives of Henry the Eighth and the Parts They Played in History. New York: McClure, Phillips & Co., 1905. Google Books, n.d. Web. 06 May 2013.

Lindsey, Karen.  Divorced, Beheaded, Survived:  A Feminist Reinterpretation of the Wives of Henry VIII.  Reading, Massachusetts:  Addison-WESLEY Publishing Company, 1995. Print.

Neale, J. E. Queen Elizabeth I. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1957. Print.

Ridley, Jasper. Elizabeth I: The Shrewdness of Virtue.  New York: Fromm International Publishing Corporation, 1989.  Print.

Somerset, Anne. Elizabeth I.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991. Print.

Starkey, David.  Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII.  London:  Chatto & Windus, 2003.  Print.

Strickland, Agnes. Life of Elizabeth, Queen of England, with Anecdotes of Her Court, from Official Records and Other Authentic Documents, Private as Well as Public. New York: Miller, [18-. Internet Archive. Web. 6 May 2013.

Strickland, Agnes, and Elisabeth Strickland. Lives of the Queens of England, from the Norman Conquest; with Anecdotes of Their Courts, Now First Published from Official Records and Other Authentic Documents, Private as Well as Public. Vol. 6. London: Henry Colburn, 1844. Google Books. Web. 15 Mar. 2013.

Weir, Alison.  The Six Wives of Henry VIII.  New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991. Print.

The Second Step-Mother to Elizabeth, Anne of Cleves

The Second Step-Mother to Elizabeth, Anne of Cleves

After the death of Jane Seymour, Henry began negotiations with European Royal houses.  Henry was still Catholic in the sense that he did not agree to reforms in the services of worship. In 1539 he had the Act of Six Articles drawn up which kept the traditional church teachings, especially the doctrine of transubstantiation. His advisors such as Cromwell and Cranmer did not relish a Catholic bride and steered Henry toward the Protestant countries and dukedoms.  The Duke of Cleves was a mild Protestant and had two unmarried sisters.  Anne was the ‘lucky’ bride. She was married to Henry in January 1540 and divorced six months later in July.

Cleves henry viii enthronedjpg
Henry VIII illustrated on his Marriage Proclamation to Anne of Cleves, January 5, 1540.

Tradition has passed down that Anne was so disgusting to Henry that he declared after first meeting her that “I like her not”.  Anne gets an unjustified description as ‘The Flanders mare’.  She was not as unattractive (we will not delve into the issue of painting by Hans Hoblein) as Henry’s supporters and biographers make out (for evidence consult the individual biographies referenced below). Their first meeting did not go well and Henry could not overlook her response.  He projected his shortcomings onto her. What had happened was, Henry full of romantic ideas of surprising his bride, entered her presence shortly after her arrival on the shores of England, disguised as a messenger.  Anne spoke few words of English, her ladies in waiting were complete foreigners, and no one advised her about Henry’s preference for masquerades which included coming upon ‘unsuspecting’ Courtiers in disguise. Startled by this muddied, elderly messenger acting very familiarly to her, Anne responded coldly and not with the delighted surprise Henry expected.

cleves holbien
The (in)famous Hans Holbein Painting, 1539

cleves miniture
Miniature attributed to Hans Holbein, 1539

Anne of Cleves
Attributed to Barthel Bruyn, 1540s

Not her features but perhaps the whole package was deemed lacking by Henry—a man captivated by the accomplishments Anne Boleyn learned at the Court of France.  Anne of Cleves, on the other hand, was reared to be a practical companion to a man with position and power, her talents of intelligence and common sense lent themselves to being a successful housewife.  Dancing, playing musical instruments, and speaking in foreign languages would not have been part of her upbringing.  Was she unattractive?  That debate we will leave behind.  This blogger believes Anne was probably attractive but “had no accomplishments whatever” that Henry found so necessary (Strickland 410).

14.236
Ceremonial bedhead created for the marriage of Henry and Anne

According to Gregorio Leti, an Italian historian writing in the late 1600s with access to documents that have since disappeared, Elizabeth wrote to her father about this time asking for permission to meet her new step-mother, Anne of Cleves.

I would like to caution us to accept Leti’s work with a touch of reserve. Mary Anne Everett Wood, a later historian, reminds us “the originals have perished, or are no longer accessible” (Wood 14).  Leti would have translated his sources into his native Italian and the only text available of his work is itself a French translation published in Amsterdam in 1694 titled, La Vie d’Elizabeth, reine d’Angleterre. This work was supposedly suppressed in England by royal authority.  The letter, which has no date or signature, written when Elizabeth would have been a little over six years old is below.

Madame,—I am struggling between two contending wishes—one is my impatient desire to see your Majesty, the other that of rendering the obedience, I owe to the commands of the King my father, which prevent me from leaving my house till he has given me full permission to do so.  But I hope that I shall be able shortly to gratify both these desires.  In the meantime, I entreat your Majesty to permit me to show, by this billet, the zeal with which I devote my respect to you as my queen, and my entire obedience to you as to my mother.  I am too young and feeble to have power to do more than to felicitate you with all my heart in this commencement of your marriage.  I hope that your Majesty will have as much good will for me as I have zeal for your service. (Queen Elizabeth I 21)

Anne showed the letter to the king and he would not let Elizabeth come to court.  Henry “took the letter and gave it to Cromwell” ordering him to write a reply.  “Tell her,” he said brutally, “that she had a mother so different from this woman that she ought not to wish to see her” (Weir 408). Whether or not the story is true, Henry did not withhold permission for long as Elizabeth was eventually brought to Court from Hertford Castle to meet Anne.

Leti reports that “Anne of Cleves, when she saw Elizabeth, was charmed by her beauty, wit and …that she conceived the most tender affection for her. Anne claimed that to have had Elizabeth “for her daughter would have been greater happiness to her than being queen” (Strickland Life of Queen Elizabeth I 15). This sentiment should not be diluted by the fact that Anne was queen for only six months.

When Henry could not evade the wedding, he became determined to divorce Anne as soon as he could. According to Martin Hume, when confronted about a previous marriage (a pre-contract to the Duke of Lorraine has been mentioned in many biographies but no marriage so I take this with a grain of salt) Anne replied, “Please your Majesty, it is true I was espoused to him, but when the Duke spoke to me about marrying your Majesty, he told me my husband was dead, and I know nothing more about it” (Hume 93). Hume continues that Henry, angry at the Duke of Cleves for giving him a married woman, called together his Council for advice on what to do.  The Council recommended a divorce and agreed he should make an allowance for Anne to live on after their marriage was dissolved.  “The lady took it pleasantly enough” (Hume 95).

cleves dedication
Rare document with the signature “Anna the Queen”

download
Most signatures are “Anna the Daughter of Cleves”

When the “conditions of her divorce were arranged, she (Anne) requested, as a great favour, that she might be permitted to see her (Elizabeth) sometimes” (Strickland Life of Queen Elizabeth I 15).  Henry agreed as long as Elizabeth addressed her as Lady Anne instead of Queen Anne (Lindsey 156).  Anne’s relationships and status were established by that new title.
Upon her divorce Anne retained a position in the family and Court with the status as the King’s Sister. She gained a sizable income “secured on the Cornish tin mines,” (Hume 95) plus lands and properties granted to her “to the value of £3,000* a year” (Strickland 419). Anne was given Richmond Palace, Hever Castle, Penshurst, Dartford Castle, a London residence, plus other estates such as the land-hold in Lewes.

richmond palace 001
Gate at Richmond Palace   

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Hever Castle

Anne Cleeves House in Lewes
Anne of Cleves House in Lewes, now a museum

Anne experienced considerable freedom and it appears as if she bore the loss of her husband quite cheerfully. She enjoyed her life in England learning to dance and play music, hunting, dressing in fine clothes and having a pleasant relationship with Henry.

Her amiableness is shown in her dedication to Henry in the Book of Hours, Salisbury 1533 “I beseche your grace huble when ye loke on this rember me. Yor graces assured anne the dowther off cleves” (Anne of Cleves).  In the modern translation: “I beseech your grace humbly when you look on this remember me.  Your grace’s assured Anne the daughter of Cleves.”

cleves book of hours
Dedication in the Book of Hours in Anne’s handwriting.  She gave this to Henry as a gift.  

cleves book of hours pictures
A decorated and illuminated page in the Book of Hours, Salisbury

This daughter of Cleves did have quite a unique status not only in England but in the scene of international politics.  Many could not define if she was free to marry and her brother put out feelers once in a while to consider her return to Cleves or create clarity in her position.  What I found interesting was the diplomatic dispatch, reprinted below, which the French Ambassador, Charles de Marillac, to the English Court sent to his king concerning the inquiry made by the Duke of Cleves after the arrest of Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VIII.

cleves william
William, Duke of Cleves

December 16, 1541 Marillac to Francis I 
Told by the ambassador of Cleves that, upon letters of credence from his master, he sought to speak with this King about lady Anne, but as the King’s grief did not permit it he yesterday went before the Council and, after declaring his master’s thanks for the King’s liberality to his sister, prayed them [to find] means to reconcile the marriage and restore her to the estate of queen. They answered, on the King’s behalf, that the lady should be graciously entertained and her estate rather increased than diminished, but the separation had been made for such just cause that he prayed the Duke never to make such a request. The ambassador asking to have this repeated, Winchester, with every appearance of anger, said that the King would never take back the said lady and that what was done was founded upon great reason, whatever the world might allege. The ambassador dared not reply, for fear that they might take occasion to treat her worse; but came to tell Marillac, because his master wrote that they would beg Francis to intercede. Thinks there are two courses open, either to intercede so dexterously as not to show that it is done with authority, and thus frighten the English into a league with the Emperor, or else to say nothing about it.  London, 16 Dec. 1541. (Gairdner XVI 678)

After Henry’s death, the financial situation of Anne of Cleves did change and there was talk of her returning to Cleves.  This, of course, came to nothing as she was at Court for Edward and Mary’s rule.

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St. Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury.  Anne and Elizabeth spent a great deal of time here. 

Throughout Mary’s reign, Anne and Elizabeth were often seen together. Starting on 30 September 1553 when they rode in a carriage during Queen Mary’s coronation procession.   They were together at the state banquet later too. “The two of them sat together at the end of the table, Elizabeth now heiress-presumptive to the throne, and Anna of Cleves’ precedence moved up to that of the third lady in the land”  (Fraser 409).

Although “Madam of Cleves always paid great honour to Madam Mary” (Hume 92), Anne did create controversy when she joined Elizabeth in not attending the Catholic Mass during the early part of Mary’s reign.  The Queen had words with Anne and she afterwards did attend services (Ridley 47).  Being so close to the same age, one could imagine how Anne and Mary could get along, but it was with Elizabeth that Anne shared the most affection until the day she died, 16 July 1557 at Chelsea Manor.

cleves tomb
Tomb of Anne of Cleves at Westminster Abbey

Anne’s last will and testament was not as bountiful as commentators would have expected.  She did leave some items to her step-daughters.  To Elizabeth she left some jewels with the hope that one of her ladies-in-waiting, Dorothy Curson, could join the younger woman’s household.

Anne’s influence may have extended further than imagined to the unmarried state of Elizabeth.  Somerset implies that witnessing her father’s distaste and rejection of Anne of Cleves and her brother-in-law Philip’s lack of respect and attraction for Mary, Elizabeth did not want to experience the same thing herself.  So as queen Elizabeth supposedly told Count Feria, the Spanish Ambassador, that she had “taken a vow to marry no man whom she has not seen, and will not trust portrait painters” (Somerset 92).

*The equivalent of £3,000 in 1540 would be worth £1,508,000 in 2010 currency of the retail price index. This was calculated using the website, Measuring Worth.com.

References

“Anne of Cleves’s Book of Hours.” -Folger Shakespeare Library. Folger Shakespeare Library, n.d. Web. 8 May 2013.

Elton, G. R. England Under the Tudors. Third ed. London:  Routledge, 1991. Print

Erickson, Carolly. The First Elizabeth. New York: Summit Books. 1983. Print.

Fraser, Antonia.  The Wives of Henry VIII.  New York:  Alfred A. Knopf, 1992. Print.

Gairdner, James and R. H. Brodie (editors). “Henry VIII: December 1541, 11-20.” Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 16: 1540-1541 (1898): 671-681. British History Online. Web. 12 May 2013.

Gairdner, James and R. H. Brodie (editors). “Henry VIII: January 1542, 1-10.” Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 17: 1542 (1900): 1-9. British History Online. Web. 12 May 2013.

Lindsey, Karen.  Divorced, Beheaded, Survived:  A Feminist Reinterpretation of the Wives of Henry VIII.  Reading, Massachusetts:  Addison-WESLEY Publishing Company, 1995. Print.

Neale, J. E. Queen Elizabeth I. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1957. Print.

Norton, Elizabeth.  Anne of Cleves:  Henry VIII’s Discarded Bride.  Stroud, Gloucestershire: Amberley Publishing, 2010. Print.

Queen Elizabeth I, Frank Mumby, and R. S. Rait. The Girlhood of Queen Elizabeth: A Narrative in Contemporary Letters. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1909. Google Books. Web. 9 May 2013.

Ridley, Jasper. Elizabeth I: The Shrewdness of Virtue.  New York: Fromm International Publishing Corporation, 1989.  Print.

Saaler, Mary.  Anne of Cleves:  Fourth Wife of Henry VIII.  London:  The Rubicon Press, 1995. Print.

Starkey, David.  Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII.  London:  Chatto & Windus, 2003.  Print.

Strickland, Agnes. Life of Elizabeth, Queen of England, with Anecdotes of Her Court, from Official Records and Other Authentic Documents, Private as Well as Public. New York: Miller, 1903 Internet Archive. Web. 6 May 2013.

Strickland, Agnes, Elisabeth Strickland, and Rosalie Kaufman. The Queens of England, Abridged and Adapted from Strickland’s “Queens of England” Chicago: Werner, 1895. Internet Archive. Web. 4 May 2013.

Weir, Alison.  The Six Wives of Henry VIII.  New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991. Print.

Warnicke, Retha. The Marrying of Anne of Cleves:  Royal Protocol in Tudor England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Print.

Wood, Mary Anne Everett. Letters of Royal and Illustrious Ladies of Great Britain: From the Commencement of the Twelfth Century to the Close of the Reign of Queen Mary : Edited, Chiefly from the Originals in the State Paper Office, the Tower of London, the British Museum and Other State Archives. Vol. II. London: Henry. Colburn, 1846. Google Books. Web. 12 May 2013.