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

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

George Constantyne was a member of the entourage of Sir Henry Norris.  As an eyewitness to Anne’s execution, he “was unfavourable to her innocence.”  The opinion was not grounded in any information he received from Norris “nor upon any personal observations which he had enjoyed the opportunity of making while holding the situation [in Norris’ household].” His opinion had been “derived merely from the information or belief of those persons with whom he had conversed at the time of the execution” (“Transcript of an Original Manuscript” 54).  Yet, it would have been difficult for anyone not to believe the heinousness of the accusations as it was “published in parliament that it might from thence spread abroad over all” (Cavendish II 209). 
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The Nidd Hall Portrait depicting a more careworn Queen Anne Bolyen.

Surprisingly, one person who leaned toward believing in Anne’s innocence was none other than her greatest adversary, Spanish envoy, Eustace Chapuys.  The diplomat, while not revealing his source, claimed a lady from Court “sent to tell me in great secrecy that the Concubine, before and after receiving the sacrament, affirmed to her, on the damnation of her soul, that she had never been unfaithful to the King” (Gairdner X 908).  Taking an oath on the sacrament was a very powerful ‘truth serum’ in the Tudor time-period.  Recall that the Earl of Northumberland swore in the same manner that there was never a pre-contract between Anne and him.  All contemporary chronicles believed his oath as they could not fathom that he could have lied on the sacrament in front of two bishops.  Regardless of her innocence or guilt, Anne was scheduled for execution on May 18, 1536, but a delay in the travel of the expert executioner from France moved her death to the following day.  Constable Kingston, always faithful in his reports to Master Secretary Cromwell, let him know that John Skip Anne’s “Almoner is continewaly with hyr, and has bene syns ii of the clock after midnight” (Gairdner X 910).  Anne was preparing for death in the only way she knew.Tower_plan1597
Anne would have stayed at the Queen’s Lodgings (g) before her execution.

Events happened so quickly from the time of Anne’s arrest to her final hours it is difficult to imagine her true mindset.  How could she have absorbed all the implications and possible repercussions?  Was she simply tired of the fight?  For many years she had had to watch for enemies, furrow out sycophants, and expend energy maintaining control. Sir William Kingston, Constable of the Tower, expressed confusion by her approach to death.  He reported in a letter to Secretary Cromwell that Anne requested his presence to hear her speak of her innocence and told him of her disappointment in the delay in her death.  “Mr. Kyngston, I hear say I shall not dy affore none, and I am very sory therfore, for I thowth to be dede by this time, and past my payne. I told hyr it shuld be no payne, it was so sottell” (Gairdner X 910).  And then Anne “said, ‘I heard say the executioner was very good, and I have a little neck,’ and she put her hands about it, laughing heartily.  I have seen many men and also women executed, and that they have been in great sorrow, and to my knowledge this lady has much joy and pleasure in death” (Wroithesley 42).  Kingston, being a practical, military man, perceived Anne’s pain as physical, whereas she perhaps was referring to emotional pain.

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The burial marker for Queen Anne Boleyn in St. Peter ad Vincula.

It would not be surprising if Anne would welcome release from the terror and sorrow she had experienced over her final few weeks.  She had witnessed her brother’s death; she lived with the knowledge that innocent men had died on her behalf (from frivolous behavior that had been construed to condemn them all); she had lost the affection and protection of her husband through divorce; she had relinquished the status and role of Queen; she had been abandoned by many from her entourage –including her father; and, she feared for the safety of her daughter. 

Anne’s Arrival at Tower Green
A Portuguese gentleman (who had gone into the Tower and stayed with English friends to circumnavigate the ban on foreigners) wrote to a friend in Lisbon “On the next Friday, which was the 19th of the same month, the Queen was beheaded according to the manner and custom of Paris, that is to say, with a sword, which thing had not been seen in this land of England” (Bell 105). The King had sent to “St. Omer for a headsman who could cut off the head with a sword instead of an axe, and nine days after they sent he arrived” (Hume, Martin “How Anne Was Beheaded” 70).
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A modern marker at the execution site–although this is most likely not the exact site of Anne Boleyn’s execution.  Note the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula in the background. 

The day before “the Lieutenant of the Tower writ to the Lord Cromwell, that it was not fit to publish the time of her execution” (Smeeton 46).  In order to preserve the solemnity of the occasion this was granted.  It was also reported that Anne requested “that she might be executed within the Tower, and that no foreigner should see her (Hume, Martin “How Anne Was Beheaded” 70). Consequently, a scaffold “having four or five steps, was then and there set up” (Bell 105).  Anne was escorted from her lodgings by Kingston, she reportedly “looked frequently behind her, and when she got upon the scaffold was very much exhausted and amazed” (Gairdner X 911).  Was she looking literally for an expected last minute reprieve?  Did she think her merciful king would pardon her and allow her to retire to a convent?  Despite her physical manifestation of these possibilities, she stated when pressed to confess, “I know I shall have no pardon, but they shall know no more from me” (Hume, Martin “How Anne Was Beheaded” 70). Anne was prepared for death.  “When she arrived at the scaffold she was dressed in a night-robe of damask, with a red damask skirt, and a netted coif over her hair” (Hume, Martin “How Anne Was Beheaded” 70).  The Queen, “assisted by the Captain of the Tower, came forth, together with the four ladies who accompanied her…” (Bell 105).  Within the Tower Green “were present several of the Nobility, the Lord Mayor of London, some of the Aldermen, and several others, rather as witnesses, than spectators of her fatal end” (Smeeton 46). Those ‘several others’ mentioned were identified as men representing “certayne of the best craftes of London” (Wriothesley 41).
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The grave markers as placed under the altar in the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula.

Among the gentlemen on the scaffold was “the headsman, who was dressed like the rest, and not as executioner; and she looked around her on all sides to see the great number of people present, for although she was executed inside, there was a great crowd” (Hume, Martin “How Anne Was Beheaded” 70).  Then Anne “besought the Captain of the Tower that he would in no wise hasten the minute of her death, until she should have spoken that which she had in mind to say; which he consented to” (Urban 56).

Anne’s Speech on the Scaffold
This blogger must ask for the indulgence of the reader at this juncture.  Because Anne’s speech on the scaffold is her last, formal one, it is obviously important.  Several variations exist from contemporaries and from later translations—many have been reproduced below.  The consistency is surprising with differences mostly in the interpretations based on the perspective of the recorder (such as the Catholic Imperial view).  The implications of the intent of her speech will be explored further although there will be no comment on the records as interpretation will be left to the reader.

Our Portuguese source recorded her words as: “Good friends, I am not come here to excuse or to justify myself, forasmuch as I know full well that aught that I could say in my defence doth not appertain unto you, and that I could draw no hope of life from the same.  But I come here only to die, and thus to yield myself humbly to the will of the King my Lord.  And if in my life I did ever offend the King’s grace, surely with my death, I do now atone” (Bell 105).

Her words arrived at the Imperial Court as: “And as the lady looked all round, she began to say these words, ‘Do not think, good people, that I am sorry to die, or that I have done anything to deserve this death.  My fault has been my great pride, and the great crime I committed in getting the king to leave my mistress Queen Katherine for my sake, and I pray God to pardon me for it.  I say to you all that everything they have accused me of is false, and the principal reason I am to die is Jane Seymour, as I was the cause of the ill that befell my mistress.’  The gentlemen would not let her say any more” (Hume, Martin “How Anne Was Beheaded” 71).

Lancelot de Carles, the French envoy conveyed the image of an unrepentant Anne unwilling to go into details of why she was facing death yet eager to promote the reputation of Henry as she “recommended your good king in whom I have seen such great humanity and the acme of all goodness; fear of God, love of his subjects” (Bernard).

The account offered later by George Constantyne was similar to de Carles.  Anne declared “I do not intende to reason my cause, but I committe me to Christ wholly, in whome ys my whole trust, desirynge you all to praye for the Kynges maiestie that he maye longe regne over you, for he ys a veraye noble prince and full gently hath handled me” (Mackintosh 385).

The English Courier, Charles Wriothesley showed Anne as pliant, “Maissters, I here humbley submit me to the lawe as the lawe hath judged me, and as for myne offences, I here accuse no man, God knoweth them; I remit them to God, beseeching him to have mercye on my sowle, and I beseech Jesu save my soverienge and maister the Kinge, the moste godlye, noble, and gentle Prince that is, and longe to reigne over yow” (Wroithesley 41-42).

The chronicler Edward Hall presented Anne as coming to die, “for aecqrdyng to the lawe and by the lawe I am judged to dye, and therefore I wyll speake nothyng against it.” She would “accuse no man, nor to speake any thyng of that, wherof I am accused and condemned to dye” she would pray that God would save the king and “send him long to reygne over you, for a gentler nor a more mercyfull prince was there never: and to me he was ever a good, a gentle, & soveraygne lorde. And yf anye persone wyll medle of my cause, I require them to judge the best.”  Anne ended by saying “And thus I take my leve of the worlde and of you all, and I heartely desyre you all to praye for me. O Lorde have mercy, on me, to God I comende my soule” (Hall 268).

Sources quoted later by Burnet and Wyatt claimed her words were as follows: “My honourable Lords, and the rest here assembled, I beseech you all, to hear witness with me, that I humbly submit myself to undergo the penalty to which the law hath sentenced me: as touching my offences, I am sparing to speak, they are best known to God: and I neither blame nor accuse any man, but leave them wholly to him: beseeching God who knows the secrets of all hearts, to have mercy on my soul.  Now, I bessech the Lord Jesus to bless and save my Sovereign master the King, the noblest and mercifulest Prince that lives: whom I wish long to reign over you.  He made me Marchioness of Pembroke, vouchsafed to lodge me in his own bosom, higher on earth he could not raise me, and hath done well to lift me up those blessed innocents above” (Smeeton 46).

Anne’s Execution
With her address spoken to the crowd, which Antony Pykeryng reported to Lady Lisle in Calais was “a thousand people”, Anne readied herself for execution (Gairdner X 918).  Although there are several different descriptions of her clothing, all accounts agree that Anne removed her mantle (or cape) of ermine and her English style hood.  She was given a small linen, white cap to cover her hair and after kneeling “fastened her clothes about her feet, and one of the said ladies bandaged her eyes” (Gairdner X 911).  Perhaps she and her ladies practiced these acts because tucking her skirts around her feet must have been done to ensure her modesty if she fell awkwardly—something they discovered during rehearsals?  This blogger would like to remind readers that during execution with a sword there is no use of a block.  Therefore, when chroniclers mention that Anne knelt, she was kneeling as if in prayer; she would not be resting her neck on a block.  Granted execution by a sword was traditionally deemed as more merciful than the axe but the strength to remain kneeling upright awaiting the strike of the sword would require a tremendous amount of courage and self-control.

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The Execution of Anne Boleyn 

So Anne knelt “but the poor lady only kept looking about her.  The headsman, being still in front of her, said in French, ‘Madam, do not fear, I will wait till you tell me.’ The sword was hidden under a heap of straw” (Hume, Martin “How Anne Was Beheaded” 71). Most sources agree on what happened. While kneeling Anne “said: ‘To Christ I commende my soule, Jesu receive my soule’ divers tymes” (Hall 268-269).  While she prayed, the executioner called out for the sword to be brought to him and when Anne turned her blindfolded face in the direction of the steps, thinking the assistant would carry the sword up, he came up behind her.  And “suddenlye the hangman smote off her heade at a stroke with a sworde” (Wroithesley 41-42).  She died as she lived, boldly.

Anne’s Final Path to St. Peter ad Vincula
With foreigners banned from the execution and Eustace Chapuys, the ready source of information, absent from the thick of things due to illness, his reports were not as reliable as typical.  He reported that Anne’s “head will be put upon the bridge, at least for some time” (Gairdner X 908).  This was not the case.  Immediately after her execution, the ladies attending Anne “fearing to let their mistress be touched by unworthy hands, forced themselves to do so” (Gardiner X 1036).  They quickly wrapped her body in a white cloth and placed it along with her severed head “into a common chest of elm tree, that was made to put arrows in” (Bell 107).  The usually efficient Kingston had not provided a coffin for the body and the case was the only option on hand.  After Anne’s body was placed in the make-shift casket “the body was taken by the ladies, and the whole carried” (Gairdner X 911) the short distance to the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula, “the church within the Tower and buried” (Hume, Martin “How Anne Was Beheaded” 71).
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Exterior of the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula.

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

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

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

When is a Friend Not a Friend?

Some people at Court were not opposed to Anne and many owed their positions to her patronage, but the vast majority of them were pliant (or worldly) enough to realize doing the King’s bidding would be the most expedient. Therefore, Anne’s friends did little to help her and even less to support her good name.  Most were content to let the events unfold while distancing themselves from anyone closely associated with her.  A story circulated that reached the ears of the Imperial Ambassador Eustace Chapuys, who relished in relaying it to his king, Charles V.  Evidently, on being consulted whether Anne and Henry were truly married, the Bishop of London, John Stokesley, replied he would “not give any opinion to anyone but the King himself.”  And “before doing so he would like to know the King’s own inclination” (Gairdner X 752).  It is easy to interpret this to mean that Stokesley would not put himself in danger knowing the king’s volatility. 

One young man, Roland Buckley, a lawyer at Grey’s Inn, seemingly wholly unconnected with Anne, wrote to his brother Richard, Chamberlain of North Wales, on May 2nd when he heard the news of Anne’s arrest. He quickly dispatched the following letter into the hands of a trusted servant, Geoffrey Griffith.
     “Sir ye shall untherstande that the queene is in the towere, the ierles of Wyltshyre her father my lorde Rocheforde her brother, maister norres on of the king previe chamber, on maister Markes on of the kings preyve chamber, wyth divers others soundry ladys. The causse of there committing there is of certen hie treson comytyde conscernyng there prynce, that is to saye that maister norres shuld have a doe wyth the queyne and Marke and the other acsesari to the sayme. The arre lyke to suffyre, all ther morre is the pitte” (Gairdner X 785).
     ‘Yff it plesyde good otherwise I praye you macke you redy in all the haste that can be and come downe to youre prynce for you your seffte may do more than xx men in your absence, therefore mayke haste for ye may be ther or onny a worde be of theyr deth, when it is ones knowe that the shall dede all wilbe to latte therefore mayke haste” (Friedmann 258). 

Geoffrey was apprehended near Shrewsbury on his way to Wales.  The letter was found and caused concern among the local dignitaries.  Buckley seemed to be enticing his brother to take some type of action—not specifically stated but obviously feeling Richard could hold the persuasive power of 20 men over Henry.  Roland Lee, Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, along with three other prominent citizens, wrote to Secretary Cromwell requesting guidance or more specifically “the King’s pleasure” in dealing with the situation (Gairdner X 820). Frustratingly, this blogger has not been able to uncover what actions were taken against the three principals involved.   

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Buildings from the Tudor era in Shrewsbury.

Understandably, the arrests led to a great deal of talk and several letters survive written from diplomats, churchmen and merchants.  Reports varied in accuracy (from the outlandish, such as Anne’s mother had been arrested to pinpoint correctness in naming which prisoners would be allowed to escape) and tone (from gleeful fascination to straightforward disinterest).

Sir John Duddeley wrote to Lady Lisle on some issue of patronage and concluded that he was sure “there is no need to write the news, for all the world knows them by this time. Today Mr. Norres, Mr. Weston, William a Brearton, Markes, and lord Rocheforde were indicted, and on Friday they will be arraigned at Westminster. The Queen herself will be condemned by Parliament. Wednesday, 10 May” (Gairdner X 837). 

A footnote in Friedmann’s text relayed from the letter of Eustace Chapuys to the Emperor Charles V that the commitment of Anne and her brother to the Tower along with others “is of certen hie treson comytyde conscernyng there prynce, that is to saye that maister norres shuld have a doc with the queyn and Marke and the other acesari to the sayme” (Friedmann 256).

Sir Edward Baynton wrote to Treasurer FitzWilliam (it is assumed this is William FitzWilliam, 1st Earl of Southampton when he was Treasurer of the Household), with concern over the lack of confessions from the prisoners.  He then cryptically comments that “I have mused much at [the conduct] of Mrs. Margery, who hath used her[self] strangely toward me of late, being her friend as I have been. There has been great friendship of late between the Queen and her. I hear further that the Queen standeth stiffly in her opinion, that she wi[ll not be convicted], which I think is in the trust that she [hath in the o]ther two” (Gairdner X 799).  An interesting mix of gossip and worry for himself—letting an official know that he has been associating with someone close to the Queen but in a benign capacity.

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Sir William Fitzwilliam, Earl of Southampton, by Hans Holbein

The Mayor of Sandwich wrote to Henry VIII concerning the Queen’s emissary, Sir Reverend William Latymer, who had been to Flanders on business for the Queen.  Evidently, Latymer had purchased several books in her name.  Some “of the books he had with him, and of others in his mail, which had not yet arrived, but which were to be conveyed to London to one Mrs. Wilkinson” (Gairdner X 827). Luckily for all involved, Thomas Boys, “one of the King’s servants”, was present who would “convey Latymer himself to the King” and directly testify about the books and Latymer’s role.

Catholic hopes ran as high as the gossip swirled.  Cardinal Rudolfo Pio da Carpi, Bishop of Faenza, optimistically wrote to Prothonotary Monsignor Ambrogio Ricalcato, Chief Secretary to Pope Paul III, “News came yesterday from England that the King had caused to be arrested the Queen, her father, mother, brother, and an organist with whom she had been too intimate. If it be as is reported, and as the cardinal Du Bellay has given him to understand, it is a great judgment of God” (Gairdner X 838). 

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Cardinal Rudolfo Pio, Bishop of Faenza by Francesco de’ Rossi and in the 
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria

John Husee, Lord Lisle’s London business agent, kept his boss informed of the happenings in London.  On May 12th he shared, “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” (Gairdner X 855).

The next day Husee succumbed to the confusion of reports by declaring that there “are so many tales I cannot tell what to write. This day, some say, young Weston shall escape, and some that none shall die but the Queen and her brother; others, that Wyat and Mr. Payge are as like to suffer as the others. The saying now is that those who shall suffer shall die when the Queen and her brother go to execution; but I think they shall all suffer. If any escape, it will be young Weston, for whom importunate suit is made” (Gairdner X 865).

Later John Husee’s opening remarks in a letter to Lady Lisle exclaimed over the world’s previously collective writings that vilified women were “nothing in comparison of that which hath been done and committed by Anne the Queen; which, though I presume be not althing as it is now rumoured, yet that which hath been by her confessed, and other offenders with her by her own alluring, procurement, and instigation, is so abominable and detestable that I am ashamed that any good woman should give ear thereunto. I pray God give her grace to repent while she now liveth. I think not the contrary but she and all they shall suffer” (Gairdner X 866).

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John Husee heraldry 

A Portuguese merchant in London wrote to a contemporary back home, “The Council then declared that the Queen’s daughter was the child of her brother; and that as the child of a private person, the child be forthwith removed from that place; and that the King should again receive that Princess who was the daughter of the former and the true Queen, as his own and real daughter, and as being his successor in the kingdom” (Urban 56).

With the current situation so unpredictable, Anne’s friends and allies had to distance themselves from her and dared not interfere.  It appeared as if “all the Court was now turned against her, and she had no friend about the King but Cranmer and therefore her enemies procured an order for him not to come to Court” (Burnet 111).

Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer’s Letter to Henry VIII

Aware of what he owed to her favor, Cranmer made an attempt to show his gratitude to the Queen by writing a letter to Henry VIII on May 3, 1536, expressing his favorable impressions of Anne “as far as was consistent with prudence and charity” (Burnet 260).  Cranmer knew the king’s temperament and an out and out defense of Anne would place the Archbishop of Canterbury in jeopardy.

Cranmer began by informing Henry that he had relocated to Lambeth to await the king’s pleasure and with the wish to bring comfort.  Cranmer consoled the king that with Henry’s “great wisdom, and by the assistance of God’s help, somewhat to suppress the deep sorrows of your grace’s heart, and to take all adversities of God’s hands both patiently and thankfully” (Burnet 260).

The Archbishop acknowledged the grievances Henry faced “whether the things that commonly be spoken of be true or not” (Burnet 261).  The king was likened to Job and Cranmer stressed that by accepting adversities as well as glory he was showing his obedience to God.   After flattering Henry, Cranmer then goes on to cushion his remarks which were favorable to Anne.  Yes, here is a man nervous of his own position and even, life yet conscientious enough to know he is obliged to Anne to utter some words of support.
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Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury

“And if it be true, that is openly reported of the queen’s grace, if men had a right estimation of things, they should not esteem any part of your grace’s honour to be touched thereby, but her honour only to be clearly disparaged.  And I am in such a perplexity, that my mind is clean amazed:  for I never had better opinion in woman, than I had in her; which maketh me to think, that she should not be culpable.  And again, I think your highness would not have gone so far, except she had surely been culpable.

‘Now I think that your grace best knoweth, that, next unto your grace, I was most bound  unto her of all creatures living.  Wherefore, I most humbly beseech your grace, to suffer me in that, which both God’s law, nature, and also her kindness bindeth me unto; that is, that I may, with your grace’s favor, wish and pray for her that she may declare herself inculpable and innocent.  And if she be found culpable, considering your grace’s goodness towards her, and from what condition your grace of your only mere goodness took her, and set the crown upon her head; I reput him not your grace’s faithful servant and subject, nor true unto the realm, that would not desire the offence without mercy to be punished, to the example of all other.  And as I loved her not a little, for the love which I judged her to bear towards God and his gospel; so if she be proved culpable, there is not one that loveth God and his gospel that ever will favour her, but must hate her above all other; and the more they favour the gospel, the more they will hate her: for then there was never creature in our time that so much slandered the gospel” (Burnet 261-262).

Cranmer then goes to the heart of the issue—the preservation of the reformist movement. The Church, which Anne helped create was in its infancy and Cranmer wanted to ensure that Henry VIII did not place the faults of Anne onto the reformist movement.  “Wherefore, I trust that your grace will bear no less entire favour unto the truth of the gospel than you did before: forsomuch as your grace’s favor to the gospel was not led by affection unto her, but by zeal unto the truth.  And thus I beseech Almighty God, whose gospel he hath ordained your grace to be defender of, ever to preserve your grace from all evil, and give you at the end the promise of his gospel. From Lambeth, the 3d day of May” (Burnet 261-262).

Astoundingly, the letter does not end there.  A postscript was added, “After I had written this letter unto your grace, my lord chancellor, my lord of Oxford, my lord of Sussex, and my lord chamberlain of your grace’s house, sent for me to come unto the star-chamber; and there declared unto me such things as your grace’s pleasure was they should make me privy unto.  For the which I am most bounded unto your Grace.  And what communication we had together, I doubt not but they will make the true report thereof unto your grace.  I am exceedingly sorry that such faults can be proved by the queen, as I heard of their relation.  But I am, and ever shall be, your faithful subject.
Your grace’s,
Humble subject and chaplain
T. Cantuariensis” (Burnet 262).

Although Cranmer was summoned on the King’s orders to hear the evidence against Queen Anne, he still did not alter his letter.  Perhaps he was doubtful about the strength of the charges against Anne; perhaps he wanted to ensure the evangelical reforms; perhaps he was flattered that the king felt it necessary to advise him of the Queen’s crimes; or, perhaps, his compassion outweighed his caution.  Regardless, the missive was sent and no repercussion fell upon him, nor was Anne’s situation abated.

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

The Path to St. Peter ad Vincula: Part I

The Path to St. Peter ad Vincula:  Part I

Nicholas Sander was an English Catholic who in 1586 wrote The Rise and Growth of the Anglican Schism, (De Origine ac Progressu Schismatis Anglicani.)  For the purpose of this blog the materials relayed from his book will concentrate on Sander’s discussion of Anne Boleyn.  That he was not a supporter of Anne is an understatement. That he saw it as his duty to publish any-and-all anecdotes that reached him is also an understatement.  In an introduction to a later publication of Sander’s book (1877), editor, David Lewis wrote that Sander was not a “slave to his resentments and passions” and did no true harm to Anne’s reputation as many had already done as much (Sander XXVI).

“The French Ambassador did not spare her, and the king’s own sister, the duchess of Suffolk, is said to have uttered ‘opprobrious language’ against her.”  Lewis went on to report that “the Venetian Calendar of State Papers, edited by Mr. Rawdon Brown, is a contemporary account of Anne, not more flattering than that of Dr. Sander” (Sander XXV).

Mario Savorgnano, Venetian Ambassador to England, had many of his dispatches to the Doge and Senate compiled by historian Marnio Sanuto in Diaries.   Sanuto’s work covers the time-period of January 1496 to September 1533 in 58 volumes. Rawdon Brown used materials from these volumes in 1871 in his translations of the Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice.  Savorgnano, while praising King Henry VIII on August 25, 1531, lessened the commendation by declaring that one “thing detracts greatly from his merits, as there is now living with him a young woman of noble birth, though many say of bad character, whose will is law to him” (Brown August 1531 682)

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Page from the book, Diaries, by Marnio Sanuto.

Simon Grynaeus, a religious reformer from Basel, who, through Erasmus, had an introduction to Sir Thomas More, spent several months in England in late 1531.  Although he accepted the task to help Henry collect the opinions of the continental reformers on the divorce between Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon, Grynaeus spoke of Anne “as a woman entitled to no respect” (Sander XXV).

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Pages from the book by Simon Grynaeus.

Lodovico Falier, Venetian co-Ambassador to the Court of Henry VIII  from January 1528 until August 1531 wrote a summary report on 10 November 1531 which was presented to the Venetian rulers declaring that Queen Katherine of Aragon was “beloved by the islanders more than any Queen that ever reigned” (Brown November 1531 694).  Sander relayed a contemporary’s assessment of Anne. “Madam Anne is not one of the handsomest women in the world: she is of middling stature, swarthy complexion, long neck, wide mouth, bosom not much raised, and in fact has nothing but the English king’s great appetite and her eyes, which are black and beautiful. That is an account of Anne Boleyn in October 1532, when she was living ‘like a queen at Calais,’ accompanied by the king” (Sander XXV-XXVI).

NPG D24782; Simon Grynaeus after Unknown artist
Engraving by an unknown artist of Simon Grynaeus.

The following is a story attributed by Sander only to the ‘French Ambassador in Venice’ who received this about the same time as Falier was giving his report. It is also relayed in Sanuto’s Diaries for the date 24 November, 1531 as reported by Brown in the Calendar of State Papers—Venice. “It is said that more than seven weeks ago a mob of from seven to eight thousand women of London went out of the town to seize Boleyn’s daughter, the sweetheart of the king of England, who was supping at a villa –in una casa di piacere—on a river; the king not being with her; and having received notice of this she escaped by crossing the river in a boat.  The women had intended to kill her, and amongst the mob were many men disguised as women; nor has any great demonstration been made about this, because it was a thing done by women” (Sander xxvii; Brown November 1531 701).

Even more tantalizing than the above story is the one concerning the birth of Anne Boleyn.  Lewis goes on quite a tirade concerning the work of William Rastall (Rastell), Life of Sir Thomas More.  It appeared to be used as an argument for the validity of Dr. Burnet’s (Gilbert Burnet was a 17th century Scottish theologian, respected historian, and Bishop of Salisbury) story of the birth of Anne Boleyn—more on that in a little bit.  Sander’s lengthy discourse caused me to spend way too much time investigating. As near as I can piece together, William Rastell did not write a book about his uncle Sir Thomas More (William’s mother was Sir Thomas’ sister) but printed the text of More’s own work, A dyaloge of Syr Thomas More knyghte: one of the counsayll of oure soverayne lorde the kyng & chauncellour of hys duchy of Lancaster…. William later edited it into More’s English Works.  John Rastell a printer and William’s father, and his subcontractor, Peter Treveris, had completed an initial printing in June 1529 (Devereux 153-155). Therefore, when Lewis pronounced, “Dr. Burnet was a bolder man” than Nicholas Sander and that Brunet “denies also that Rastell ever wrote a Life of Sir Thomas More” as to why his story “deserves to be read” I had to investigate (Sander xxvii).

rastell
Printer’s Mark of John Rastell

“Were true,” writes Burnet, “very much might be drawn from it, both to disparage king Henry, who pretended conscience to annul his marriage for the nearness of affinity, and yet would after that marry his own daughter.  It leaves also a foul and lasting stain both on the memory of Anne Boleyn, and of her incomparable daughter, queen Elizabeth.  It also derogates so much from the first reformers, who had some kind of dependence on queen Anne Boleyn, that it seems to be of great importance, for directing the reader in the judgment he is to make of persons and things, to lay open the falsehood of this account.  It were sufficient for blasting it, that there is no proof pretended to be brought for any part of it, but a book of one Rastall, a judge, that was never seen by any other person than that writer.  The title of the book is ‘The Life of Sir Thomas More.’  There is great reason to think that Rastall never writ any such book; for it is most common for the lives of great authors to be prefixed to their works.  Now this Rastall published all More’s works in queen Mary’s reign, to which if he had written his life, it is likely he would have prefixed it.  No evidence, therefore, being given for his relation, either from record or letters, or the testimony of any person who was privy to the matter, the whole is to be looked on as a black forgery, devised on purpose to defame queen Elizabeth” (Sander xxviii).

images
Sir Thomas More

The implication that Henry VIII had sired a daughter, Anne, by Elizabeth Howard Boleyn was the outgrowth of the steady rumor that Henry had intimate relations with Elizabeth. Henry addressed the gossip to Sir George Throgmorton saying, “Never with the mother” (Friedman 326).  This blog will relay the story via the work of Nicholas Sander relayed through Dr. Burnet and Nicholas Pocock.

Pocock, who wrote Records of the Reformation: The Divorce 1527-1533, was no fan of Sander’s work.  In later years he edited a volume and wrote extensively of Sander’s mistakes.  In a lengthy chapter titled, “An Appendix Concerning Some of the Errors and Falsehoods in Sanders’ Book of the English Schism,” Pocock referred to his predecessor as “so great a master, impudence, and falsehood are matter of fact” (Burnet and Pocock 615).

Henry VIII was determined to marry Anne Boleyn and he was concerned over Cannon Law which could prohibit the marriage due to consanguinity.  It was accepted that Henry had committed “intrigue with Mary Boleyn, the elder sister of Anne” (Pocock xxxviii).  Nicholas Sander would not hold to Henry VIII’s argument that he must divorce Catherine of Aragon due to consanguinity yet would marry Anne Boleyn “having at the same time knowledge that this very impediment subsisted against the marriage with Anne Boleyn” (Sander 95). According to Sander, Henry had confessed in “a letter to Pope Clement VII that he had committed adultery with Mary Boleyn, the sister of Anne” (Sander 98).  This would make Henry related to Anne by the first degree of consanguinity.  Sander chided Henry for his lack of respect to the doctrines of the Church and for “his hypocrisy …and the falsehood of his heart” (Sander 98).  This being reference to Henry divorcing Katherine Aragon as the wife of his brother and for his relations to Mary Boleyn and Elizabeth Boleyn.

“Whether there was any connexion of a similar kind between Henry and the mother of Anne Boleyn may perhaps still be somewhat doubtful.  The king, on one occasion, denied that there had been any such intercourse, thereby tacitly admitting the other charge” (Pocock xxxviii).

ehboley

Portrait believed to be of Elizabeth Howard Boleyn

Whatever the truth concerning the matter of Lady Boleyn and Henry VIII, Pocock believed that Sander overreached himself in his eagerness to defame Elizabeth Regina.  He does later find more charity with Sander and states that Sander truly believed the information he had been given (Pocock xli).    Below is the document dated March 1533, in which a priest named Thomas Jackson was charged with having stated that the King had committed adultery with Anne and Elizabeth Boleyn. It was reported by Sander and later reproduced by Pocock, titled, “Number CCCXXIX.”

Certain Articles deposed against Sir Thomas Jakson,
Chantree priest of Chepax, for certain words spoken by
him maliciously against our sovereign lord and king and
the queen’s grace by John Kepar and Bryan Banke of the
said town, which things also they have confessed before
Mr. William Fairfax, Esquire, Sheriff of the county of York.
First, The said Chantry Priest said that the king’s grace had
lived before this his marriage lawfully made with the queen’s
grace, not after the laws of God, but in adultery with her
grace and so doth now still continue, putting away from him
his lawful wife.
 
Item, He said maliciously that the king’s grace should first
kepe the mother and after the daughter, and now he hath
married her whom he kept afore and her mother also, upon
which words we presented the said preiset unto the sheriff
aforesaid, upon which presentment the said preist was
attached with all his goods, and the said John Kepar
and Brian Banke were by the said sheriff made to bind
themselves ot come hither and present the same to the
king’s grace counsel; which they have now done, most
meekly desiring to be at your pleasure demitted, for
they be poor men, and to lye long here should be to them
great hindrance.
 
Which thing to be true the said John Kepar and Brian Banke
will stand by at all times and have bounden themselves
before the sheriff by their hands and seals.
 
Endorsed—
Certain Articles deposed against Sir Thomas Jakson priest
(Pocock 468).
jakson proof of ab
Document Number CCCXXIX

“That the report of such intercourse spread during the first year of the marriage is plain from the document Number CCCXXIX, and the story must be allowed whatever weight is due to an assertion of a charge in itself improbably, and for the invention f which no adequate reason can be assigned.  Hitherto it has been supposed that Nicholas Sanders was the inventor of the libel; but this document shews that the report existed at least half a century before Sanders’ book, ‘De Schismate,’ was published.  It was, of course easy to magnify the particulars of such a story till it grew to the dimensions of Anne being the king’s own daughter” (Pocock xxxix).  Sander declared that “Henry had sinned with the mother of Anne Boleyn. And there was therefore, that relationship between them which subsists between parent and child.  It is never lawful for a father to marry his own daughter” (Sander 99).

Pocock told how Sander had acquired the tale from a book about the life of Sir Thomas More by Rastell and had never checked the facts.  “That Anne could be the king’s daughter by lady Boleyn is easily shewn to be impossible from considerations of time and circumstance” (Pocock xxxix).  Although Pocock never relays to us the proof of this, he does give Sander some slack due to the wording of the dispensation that Cranmer had petitioned from the Pope to allow Henry to marry Anne.  Cranmer had to cover every possible point and we are cautioned not to place too much stress “on Cranmer’s assertion, that the affinity supposed to be contracted by illicit intercourse of a man with his wife’s sister, daughter, or mother.”  Specifics would not even be that necessary as Cannon Law “being express upon this subject: Secundum canones etiam per coitum fornicarium et incestuosum contrahitur affinitas.”  Pocock assures us that the details of Cranmer’s request are “veiled in the decent obscurity of a dead language” (Pocock xxxix-xl).

Thomas_Cranmer
Thomas Cranmer

This blogger is upset with herself for spending too much time and energy on these rumors but they do illustrate the lengths people went to defame Anne Boleyn.  Now we come to the crux of Sander’s argument.

Henry was deemed as shameless and Sander was astounded by the “hypocrisy and the rashness and lewdness of one man” but marveled the more at the fact that “multitudes of men should endure patiently, not their own lewdness, but that of another—not only endure it patiently, but respect it, praise and honour it so far as to build upon it their belief, their hope and salvation” (Sander 99-100).

Anne Boleyn B necklace
Anne Boleyn
He exclaimed that “Now, all English Protestants, honour the incestuous marriage of Henry and Anne Boleyn as the well-spring of their gospel, the mother of their Church, and the source of their belief” (Sander 100).  The religious issue was never far behind the personal and the political.  Pope Clement VII had officially declared that Henry had by “de facto married one Anne, contrary to Our commandments, and in contempt of Our prohibitions contained in Our letter in forma Brevis, thereby temerariously disturbing the due course of law; the marriage contracted by the aforesaid Henry and Anne all manifest and notorious deeds to be what they are and were, null and unjust and contrary to law” (Lilly 350).  For further measure, Clement declared “by the same sentence that the children, born or to be born of that marriage, are and always have been bastards” (Lilly 351).

clement2
Pope Clement VII

As mentioned, politics wrapped itself in the religious and personal lives of the Tudor Era and the Pope saw fit to “deal gently and mercifully with the said Henry.” He gave Henry over a year to comply with the orders to repudiate Anne and reinstate Catherine or face excommunication.  The Pope could not afford to alienate Henry and was hoping for a reprieve to allow matters to resolve themselves and thus not offend Charles, Holy Roman Emperor, nephew of Catherine of Aragon.  That fascinating angle to this topic will not be addressed here. Thus, Catholic Sander was convinced that “this marriage opened a door to every heresy and to every sin” which eventually brought her downfall (Sander 101).

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Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd: Part I

Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd: Part I

Many of Elizabeth Regina’s international affairs were intertwined with those of Philip II.  Most students of history understand his connection as King of Spain and the adversary who lost The Spanish Armada.  Many forget his role as ruler of the Netherlands and Elizabeth’s opposition to his sovereignty there.  Even more do not realize his role as her brother-in-law, Philip was married to Elizabeth’s half-sister Mary for several years.  What was the basis of their relationship?  Did Elizabeth feel any allegiance to Philip for the contribution he made to her relationship with her sister and her position at Court? How did this association influence both countries’ foreign policies?  These questions and several others will be addressed in a series of blogs entitled “Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd”.

Philip II 

Who was Philip II of Spain?  Born 21 May 1527, his parents were Charles I of Spain (Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor) and Isabella of Portugal.  Given a classical education, he was also given practical instruction.  Philip spent much time as interim ruler of Spain while his father traveling through his domains and much of Philip’s time was spent in the 17 Provinces of the Spanish Netherlands (territories of modern day Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxemburg) where he became nominal ruler from 1549.

Married four times, he was created King of Naples upon his marriage to his second wife, Mary I of England, in order to share equal rank as a ruling sovereign with his new bride.  Philip arrived in Winchester on July 19, 1554, where he met with Mary for the first time prior to their marriage held in the cathedral on 25 July 1554.

philip-ii
  Philip II

As King of Naples and England, Philip’s main concern at all times was for Hapsburg interests.  Leaving England for Flanders in late August of 1555, he attempted to impose the will of the Holy Roman Empire in central Europe.  He returned to his wife 18 March 1557 to request her support in the war against France.  He left again four months later never to return.  Mary did embroil England in a war with France on behalf of his interests and lost Calais January 7, 1558.

Philip’s royal rank was secured when his father abdicated in 1556 and he became ruler in the Spanish Netherlands, Burgundy and Spain. Besides titles in many European territories that had once been part of the Holy Roman Empire, Philip became King of Portugal in 1580 through his mother’s claims.

Referred to accurately as the “secretary-king” or the “king of paper”, Philip ruled “through the written word rather than through personal contact and debate.” As a young king he was a “shy, passive, sedentary man” resolving perfectly to rule his “far-flung dominions with pen and ink alone” (Boyden 66).  Words to describe Philip would be pious, frugal in dress and at table, hard-working, and conscientious.  This blogger believes his dominate trait was loyalty—to the Hapsburg interests.  Politically, this trait overshadowed his religious scruples; religiously, this trait overshadowed his politics. Regardless, from the time of his father’s abdication until his own death at the age of 71 in 1598, Philip ruled absolutely. On one occasion, he wrote “I don’t know if [people] think I’m made of iron or stone. The truth is, they need to see that I am mortal, like everyone else” — but he seldom had qualms about exercising his absolute power (Parker).  Surprisingly, the cautious almost hesitant Philip of his early reign morphed into a more reckless, imprudent ruler in his later years as he struggled with his country’s relations with the Low Countries and England.

bloody mary
  Mary I

England’s military and financial assistance to the Dutch rebels, the seizure of Spanish bullion ships and lack of cooperation with Spain—as perceived by Philip—led to deteriorating relations between the two countries.  Whereas Elizabeth ruled in a time of change, ironically in the face of her motto Semper eadem, he was seen to hold to tradition.  While she did try to keep things familiar, he had to innovate in response to the needs of his vast empire and the shifting international scene.

Despite four marriages and the births of many children, Philip constantly contended with inadequate heirs who were sickly or mentally unstable.  He exclaimed once in frustration, “God, who has given me so many Kingdoms to govern, has not given me a son fit to govern them” (Philip II of Spain).

Mary I

Upon the death of Edward VI and the proclamation of Jane Grey as Queen, there was confusion and anger from the London masses.  Many landowners favored the ‘old religion’ and thus supported Mary when she came to call on the magnates to rally troops for her cause.  She stunned the foreign ambassadors (most likely thinking she couldn’t succeed without foreign troops and intervention) with a following of thousands at Framlingham in Suffolk.

The rationale included in Jane’s proclamation was set to instill fear in the country.  It was a warning that if Mary were to take over the throne and eventually marry “any stranger born out of this realm…to have the laws and customs of his … country …practiced and put in use within this realm, rather than the laws, statues, and customs here… of long time used, …to the peril of conscience and the utter subversion of the common weal of this realm” (Castor 409).

ladyjayne
  The “Streatham” portrait believed to be Lady Jane Grey

Mary’s sex and the traditional role of wife were against her but the people knew her to be the rightful heir.  When she was set to marry Philip of Spain and the people expressed their concern, she gave a rousing speech to ease their fears.  Mary proclaimed, “I am already married to the Common Weal and the faithful members of the same; the spousal ring whereof I have on my finger: which never hitherto was, nor hereafter shall be, left off.  Protesting unto you nothing to be more acceptable to my heart, nor more answerable to my will, than your advancement in wealth and welfare, with the furtherance of God’s glory” (Loades Chronicle of Tudor Queens 36).  This assertion that she was married to her kingdom was a smart political move.

Many people in the country could not fathom that as a woman she did not need a husband to carry out “the offices which do not properly belong to woman’s estate” (Castor 428). Linked to this was the belief that Mary would not hand over the power of England to her husband.  The marriage treaty solved this fear.  Philip would have little to do with the running of the country.  He could assist and that was about it. Mary would do all in her power to appear to include him yet there was no doubt that she, who had been trained as a sovereign Princess of Wales, would be ruler of England.  In the Council Register two days after their marriage it was noted that “At Winchester, 27th July, This daye it was ordered by the boarde that a note of all such matteres of state as should passe from hence should be pute into Latten and Spanyche from henceforth.  It was also ordered that all matteres of estate passynge in the kinge and quenes names should be signed with both their handes” (Nichols Chronicle of Queen Jane 135). So he could read documents in Spanish, he could sign them, but he would be greatly restricted in his formal influence.

Philip mary
Mary and Philip 

Did Mary need a husband to help rule England.  No.  She needed one for an heir though. She had misread her people.  They opposed the foreign match with Philip.  Yes, he was Catholic, the choice of the advisor she so admired (Charles V), and he was from her mother’s homeland.  These emotional elements were also supported by the more practical and political merits of his being a good choice from a limited selection.  It is well-known that Mary fell head-over-heels in love with Philip.  With a restricted formal influence, his informal influence was close to boundless. Giovanni Michiel, Ambassador to England for Venice reported to the Doge and the Venetian Senate that Queen Mary’s representative, Francesco Piamontese, was sent in June 1556 to Brussels because “it being credible that nothing is done, nor does anything take place, without having the King’s opinion about it, and hearing his will” (Brown VI June 1-15 505).

charles
Charles V

Simon Renard, Ambassador to Spain in England was instructed to feel Mary out about the union.   Charles also inquired about his son’s view.  Dutifully, he responded “I very well see the advantages that might accrue from the successful conclusion of this affair.”  Philip assured his father, “ If you wish to arrange the match for me, you know that I am so obedient a son that I have no will other than yours” (Patterson 42-43).  Mary, showing as much filial loyalty as Philip assured Renard that she wanted to please Charles “in the same way she would wish to please her father” (Patterson 43).  The marriage was inevitable despite Mary’s need to have the Privy Council’s approval.  Charles V was aware of this and worked hard behind the scenes to get members on his side.  The importance of this marriage, uniting England and Hapsburg territories, was discussed in many contemporary writings; all agree that the purpose was for “temporal and spiritual peace and unity among Europeans” (Hunt 152).  Quite a mission.

Simon_Renard
 Simon Renard, Spanish Ambassador to England

John Elder shared many details about the ceremonies which marked the marriage between Mary and Philip in the summer of 1554.  Philip had “landed  at Southampton in Hamshire, within ten mile of the citie of Winchester, on Friday the xx day of July at iii of the clocke at afternone” and was met by “the lords of the counsel and diverse other noble men” (Nichols The Chronicle of Queen Jane 137-138).  Philip rode through Winchester “on a faire white horse, in a riche coate embroidered with gold, his doublet, hosen, and hat suite-like” (Nichols The Chronicle of Queen Jane 139).

Mary stayed at Wolvesey Palace (the Old Bishop’s Palace) and Philip was housed in the Dean’s house. They met on July 23rd for the first time at Wolvesey Palace and while some reports say Mary spoke French, most sources agree they conversed “in the Spanishe tongue” (Nichols Chronicle of Queen Jane 140).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Ruins of Wolvesey Palace, where Mary and Philip met for the first time

The wedding, held on 25 July 1554 the feast day of St. James, patron saint of Spain, was very sumptuous with many sources describing decorations of the churches and palaces and the splendor of the clothes and jewelry of the participants.  We know Philip was attired “in brocade, covered with white velvet, rich in gold and pearls, with a very rich brocade collar, a ruby robe, richly decorated with gold and pearls  and diamond buttons” (Hunt 148).  Mary was dressed “in silver cloth with a cloak …a very rich collar and hair decoration…a belt in the richest gold, with jewellery on the breast with a diamond in the center” (Hunt 148).

At the Cathedral Philip was met by the Bishop of Winchester, Stephen Gardiner Lord Chancellor and five other bishops all “mitred, coped, and staved” where he knelt, kissed the crucifix, prayed and then entered “upon a skafholde which was made for the solomnizacion of his marriage” (Nichols The Chronicle of Queen Jane 139).  Remarkably, throughout the ceremony Mary was placed on the right and Philip on the left, the opposite of the conventional set-up.  Perhaps to placate her English subjects or her own feelings of triumph, Mary showed herself as the ruling sovereign with Philip as consort.

StephenGardiner
Stephen Gardiner, Lord Chancellor and Bishop of Winchester

Regardless of who was seen as sovereign and consort, the royal titles are impressive.  John Elder, with relish, gives the list in the “stile in Latin” and the “stile in Englishe” which will be recreated below:

"Philip and Marie, by the grace of God king and quene of England, 
Fraunce, Naples, Hierusalem, and Irelande, defenders of the faith, 
princes of Spain and Secy, archdukes of Austria, dukes of Millan,
Burgundy, and Brabant, counties of Haspurge, Flaunders, and Tiro” 
(Nichols Chronicle of Queen Jane 142).

After the ceremony Philip “addressed the Spanish lords who were about him, and told them they must at once forget all the customs of Spain, and live in all respects after the English fashion” (Nichols The Chronicle of Queen Jane 139).  Post wedding celebrations were then held at Wolvesey Palace where there was much “triumphing, bankating, singing, masking, and daunsing, as was never seen in Englande heretofore” (Nichols Chronicle of Queen Jane 136).

WinCathi
Winchester Cathedral

Two days later, in the Council Register it was noted that “At Winchester, 27th July, This daye it was ordered by the boarde that a note of all such matteres of state as should passe from hence should be pute into Latten and Spanyche from henceforth, and the same to be delyvered to such as it should please the kinges highnes to appointe to recave it.  It was also ordered that all matteres of estate passynge in the kinge and quenes names should be signed with both their handes” (Nichols Chronicle of Queen Jane 135).

Elder was beside himself exclaiming the joy after “this moste noble mariage” of seeing dual sovereignty with “the kinges magestie and the queen sitting under the cloth of estate” (Nichols Chronicle of Queen Jane 143).  We know this did not come to pass without problems.  In January of 1554, after hearing the rumors of a possible match between Mary and Philip, a group of gentlemen organized an uprising known as the Wyatt Rebellion.  This will be further discussed in the blog entry, “Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd: Part II.”

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Announcing Elizabeth’s Birth

Elizabeth’s Birth Announcement:

In the summer of 1533, as the birth of the child of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn drew nearer, a courtier, John Russell, wrote in a letter to Lord Lisle, Captain of Calais, that he “never saw the King merrier” (Nichols 443). The royal couple were at Windsor until 21 August when they traveled to Whitehall.  From there on 26 August, they moved to Greenwich where Anne was to take to her chamber. This required a formal ceremony to be performed.  Anne went in procession to the Chapel Royal to hear mass, then to her Great Chamber.  She and her guests dined and then ate ceremoniously from a “goodly spice plate…of spice and comfettes.” The Lord Mayor of London provided “a cuppe of assaie of gold, and after that she had dronke, she gave the Maior the cuppe.” Once the refreshments were partaken of, Anne “under her Canapie, departed to her Chamber” and at the entry of her chamber, she gave her Canopy of State to the barons “accordyng to their clayme” (Hall 805). Anne’s Lord Chamberlain called for all to pray for the safe delivery of her child and then Anne and her women entered her chamber” (Hall 805).    Henry 8      anneboleyn
            King Henry VIII                           Queen Anne Boleyn

Anne’s chambers would have been altered tremendously to create the lying-in chamber to provide enough storage for multiple weeks of supplies and baby items.  Included would have been furniture: beds for the birth, recovery and ceremonies, and the baby cot; plus blankets, pillows and bedding.  An altar for religious services would have been included along with candlesticks, crucifixes and religious images.  Tapestries would have covered the walls, ceiling and all windows except for one.  Alison Weir stated that the tapestries showed St. Ursula and her 11,000 virgins (Weir Six Wives 257).  David Starkey, on the other hand, informed that the tapestries would not have depicted animals or humans as that could trigger fantasies in the mother-to-be and lead to a deformed child (Starkey Elizabeth 2). Regardless of the decoration themes, one can envision the chamber as being a “cross between a chapel and a luxuriously padded cell” (Starkey Elizabeth 2).

greenwich 1533
 Greenwich 1533

William Blount, 4th Baron Mountjoy, Chamberlain to Catherine of Aragon sent to his counterpart in Anne’s household, George Brooke, 9th Baron Cobham, advice on the correct method for the confinement and ensuing ceremonies.  A general procedure had been followed for generations, and it was unlikely that Henry VIII would jeopardize the successful birth of his male heir by altering the steps in any way.  That is why the speculation that Henry kept Anne from her confinement in order to dupe the general population about the date of conception does not make sense.
george brooke
George Brooke, 9th Baron of Cobham and Queen Anne’s Lord Chamberlain

Once a woman entered her lying-in chamber, it was a signal that she did not expect to have her child for about a month. Anne gave birth within two weeks. How and why could there be such a miscalculation? Retha Warnicke speculates that Henry took advantage of Anne’s good health in the summer of 1533 and delayed her entry to her chamber.  He wanted to confuse people over the delivery date to convince them that the child had been conceived during the time of their marriage (Warnicke 164).  Would Henry do that?  Would he risk the health of his male child in such a way?  I do not think so.  Would he encourage people to assume the date of their wedding was earlier than it was?  Probably.

Chronicler Edward Hall insisted that Henry and Anne married on 14 November 1532 on “sainct Erkenwalds daie” and managed it to be “kept so secrete, that very fewe knewe it, til Builyne she was greate with child, at Easter after” (Hall 794).  Other sources state the wedding was on 25 January 1533.  Eric Ives speculates that the earlier date was used much afterwards to protect Elizabeth’s reputation against being born out of wedlock.  If a compromise theory is believed, a commitment ceremony could have been held in November that would “stand up in canon law– espousals de praesenti before witnesses which, if sealed by intercourse, would have been canonically valid …” (Ives 170).  Henry would have then held another ceremony, before a priest, in January once it was obvious Anne was pregnant: or could the mid-wives and physicians have underestimated the delivery date?  We will never know.  What we do know is that on “vii day of September being Sondaie, between thre and foure of the Clocke after noone, the Quene was delivred of a faire lady” (Hall 805).

The fact that the child was a girl was a shock to her parents so sure they were that they would have a son.  Tradition tells us that Henry responded appropriately to Anne by saying that all was well since they were both young “by God’s grace, boys will follow” (Weir, pg. 258).  Immediately following the birth, a Te Deum was sung and “great preparacion was made for the christening” with the Mayor of London, Stephen Peacock, and chief citizens “commaunded to bee at the Christenyng, the Wednesdaie folowyng” in all of their finery went by barge to Greenwich.  “All the walles betwene the Kynges place and the Friers, were hanged with Arras, and all the waie strawcd with grene” the Observant Friars Church was also hung in tapestries.  The font was “of siluer, and stoode in the midles of the Churche, three steppes high, whiche was couered with a line clothe … oner it hong a square Canape of crimosin Satten, fringed with golde” and in an area close by was a brazier with a fire in it to keep the child warm.  When “al these thynges wer ordered, the child was brought to the hall,” followed by members of Court with “the Erie of Essex, bearyng the couered Basins gilte, after hym the Marques of Excester with taper of virgin waxe, next hym the Marques Dorset, bearyng the salt, behynd-hym the lady Mary of Norffolk, bearyng the cesom whiche was very riche of perle & stone, the old Duches of Norffolk bare the childe” (Hall 805).   The child wore, in addition to a christening robe heavy and stiff with gold embroidery…a royal mantle of purple velvet and miniver, with a train so long that it was borne up by a lady and two gentlemen (Tytler 2).

frances
Portrait identified as Frances Brandon Grey, Marchioness of Dorset, Duchess of Suffolk

An enthusiastic Hall continues to describe the scene as the Duke of Norfolk walked to the right of the baby, the Duke of Suffolk to the left and the Countess of Kent bore the train along with other noble ladies.  The baby’s uncle, Lord Rochford and three others carried a canopy over her.  When “the child was come to the churche dore, the bishop of London met it with diverse bishoppes and Abbottes mitred, and began the observances of the Sacrament” (Hall 806).

One godmother was the baby’s cousin, Frances Brandon, Marchioness of Dorset; the other, who carried the child, was her great-grandmother, Agnes, Dowager Duchess of Norfolk, the godfather was Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer.  The Bishop of London John Stokesley, assisted by other clergy performed the ceremony (Tytler 2). The “childe was named Elizabeth: and after that al thyng was done, at the churche dore the child was brought to the Fount, and christened” (Hall 806).

agnes norfolk3
Agnes, Dowager Duchess of Norfolk

We are told that the Garter Chief King of Arms then proclaimed “God of His infinite goodness, send a prosperous life and long, to the high and mighty princess of England Elizabeth” (Strickland 4). Next Elizabeth was confirmed as part of the extended ceremony. Afterwards servants brought in “wafers, comfits and hypocras in such plenty that every man had as much as he would desire” (Somerset 4). “Then they set forwardes, the trumpettes goyng before in thesame ordre, towarde the kynges place, as they did when they came thether warde, … and in this ordre thei brought the princes, to the Quenes chamber (Hall 806).  With Henry VIII in attendance, Queen Anne received her child back while Londoners rejoiced with Court supplied wine and bonfires in the streets but no jousts or fireworks—this was a princess not a prince.  Publically Henry continued to reassure that the princess was not a disappointment.  Privately, as reported by a gleeful Eustace Chapuys, Spanish Ambassador, the birth was a “great regret both of him and the lady, and to the great reproach of the physicians, astrologers, sorcerers, and sorceresses, who affirmed that it would be a male child. But the people are doubly glad that it is a daughter rather than a son, and delight to mock those who put faith in such divinations, and to see them so full of shame” (Gairdner VI 1112).

How could the predictions go so wrong? 

Besides soliciting physicians’ opinions on the sex of the child, astrologers and soothsayers were also consulted.  Only one did not predict a son.  William Glover wrote to Queen Anne of a vision he had in which she gave birth to a “woman child” and he instructed she “should be delivered of your burden at Greenwich” (Gardiner VI 1599).

Physicians “studied astronomy, astrology, geometry, mathematics, music and philosophy” in the 16th century.  “The Tudors believed strongly in the divine plan ….  Fate, fortune and goodwill might cure” (Hurren). Included in the studies of sciences, astrology was certainly compatible with religion at this time.  Astrology was considered a way to understand God’s plan.  Henry VIII received predictions that the child Anne was carrying was a boy—there was no reason to doubt that.  God had punished Henry for co-habitating with his brother’s wife, Catherine of Aragon, against the teachings of Leviticus, by not granting living male children to that union.  Surely, he could not have misinterpreted the signs of the divine will to divorce Catherine.  Sons would come from his union with Anne.

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Henry VIII’s astrolabe made for him by Bastien le Seney, royal clockmaker

References to prophecies and predictions were accepted at the time as were the “astrological superstitions of the generation” (Tytler 2). In one of his love letters to Anne, Henry showed a “personal interest in astrology: in attempting to dispel her fears about their forced separation” (Warnicke 165).

“I and my heart put ourselves in your hands. Let not absence lessen your affection; for it causes us more pain than I should ever have thought, reminding us of a point of astronomy that the longer the days are, the further off is the sun, and yet the heat is all the greater. So it is with our love, which keeps its fervour in absence, at least on our side. Prolonged absence would be intolerable, but for my firm hope in your indissoluble affection. As I cannot be with you in person, I send you my picture set in bracelets” (Brewer).

As Lutheran theologian Philipp Melancthon later said in his dedication to the text, Theological Commonplaces, “Henry is ‘the most learned of kings not only in theology, but also in other philosophy, and especially in the study of the movement of the heavens’. Since the king and his contemporaries held ‘a complex view of conception in which both the physical and spiritual’ were intertwined, he may have been persuaded of the validity of the prophecies about the child’s sex because he had personally done all that was necessary for him to earn and to merit a divine blessing in the form of a son” (Warnicke 165).

PhilippMelanchthon
Theologian, Philipp Melancthon
loci15352
Theological Commonplace, 1535 which had the dedication to Henry VIII.

“Anne’s skeptical attitude toward the most superstitious of them must have been well-known” as John Foxe later discussed it (Warnicke 165).  Foxe recounted a story that implied Anne’s “true faith …for when king Henry was with her at Woodstock, and there, being afraid of an old blind prophecy, for which neither he nor other kings before him durst hunt in the said park of Woodstock, nor enter into the town of Oxford, at last, through the Christian and faithful counsel of that queen, he was so armed against all infidelity, that both he hunted in the aforesaid park, and also entered into the town of Oxford, and had no harm”  (Foxe 136). Popular belief maintained that Henry did abide by the use of prophecies.
John_Foxe
John Foxe

Certain the child would be a boy, Henry and Anne had selected the names of Edward and Henry and had asked Francis I, King of France to be godfather.  In a dispatch to Francis, his Ambassador, Jean de Dinteville, The Bailly of Troyes*, explains how he had been asked to “hold at the font the child of which the Queen is pregnant, if it is a boy” (Gairdner VI 1070).

As an aside, de Dinteville (also as known as d’Intevile Polizy) “chevalier Sieur de Polizy, near Bar-sur-Seyne, Bailly of Troyes who was Ambassador in England for King Francis I in the years 1532-1533” was identified in the late 19th century as one of the sitters in the Ambassadors painting by Hans Holbein (Hervey 12).  Without going into extreme detail, the clues in the painting confirmed what Hervey discovered on a fragment of manuscript.  An example would be the seigneurie, an area of manorial influence that de Dinteville held, was Polizy in Burgundy shown on the globe in the painting  (Hervey 8).
jeandinteville
Jean de Dinteville, French Ambassador 
ambassadors
The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein, 1533
Jean de Dinteiville and Georges de Selve

There is no record of whether or not Francis I felt any sympathy for Henry’s disappointment but it was clear he would not be asked as godfather for a princess’s baptism. While de Dinteville showed his “complete allegiance to the Crown of France” (Hervey 41), being ready to fill whatever office would be required even for a princess, his Spanish counterpart, Eustace Chapuys, was interpreting the birth of a daughter to Henry as the divine will that “Misfortune manages well; and God has forgotten him entirely, hardening him in his obstinacy to punish and ruin him” (Gairdner VI 1112).

francisi
King Francis I of France   

After the ceremony de Dinteville exclaimed “the whole occasion was so perfect that nothing was lacking” (Hibbert 14).  Chapuys concluded “the christening has been like her mother’s coronation, very cold and disagreeable both to the Court and to the city, and there has been no thought of having the bonfires and rejoicings usual in such cases. After the child was baptised, a herald in front of the church-door proclaimed her princess of England (Gairdner VI 1125).
chapuys
Eustace Chapuys, Spanish Ambassador

Prior to the christening, Chapuys claimed that the child would “be called Mary, like the Princess; which title, I hear in many quarters, will be taken from the true princess and given to her” (Gairdner 1112).  He had to retract saying “the daughter of the lady has been named Elizabeth, and not Mary” (Gairdner 1125).  Obviously, the child was named for her two grandmothers, Elizabeth of York and Elizabeth Howard.

So sure were the parents that the child would be a boy, official announcements, which were to be sent throughout the realm and to the Courts of Europe from the Queen listed the child as a prince.  One such letter is preserved written to Lord Cobham, Anne’s Chancellor informing him of the birth at Greenwich on 7 September during the 25th year of the reign of Henry (Gairdner VI 1089).   An ‘s’ was added to the word prince (see the facsimile below—the first is in the third line, center also shown in an enlargement—and secondly in the final sentence) which would have altered it enough in the 16th century to signify the word princess.
elizabethbirthannouncement
Letter of Lord Cobham– the area with the ‘s’ insertion is enlarged below.  A transcription is also included.
elizabethbirthannouncement

By the Quene
Right trustie and welbiloved, we grete you well. And where as it hath pleased the goodnes of Almightie God, of his infynite marcie and grace, to sende unto us, at this tyme, good spede, in the delyveraunce and bringing furthe of a Princes, to the great joye, rejoyce, and inward comforte of my Lorde, us, and all his good and loving subjectes of this his realme; for the whiche his inestymable benevolence, soo shewed unto us, we have noo litle cause to give high thankes, laude, and praising unto oure said Maker, like as we doo mooste lowly, humbly, and with all the inwarde desire of our harte. And inasmuche as we undoubtidly truste, that this oure good spede is to your great pleasure, comforte, and consolation, We, therefore, by thies our letters, advertise you thereof, desiring and hartely praying you to give, with us, unto Almightie God, high thankes, glorie, laude, and praising; and to praye for the good helth, prosperitie, and contynuall preservation of the said Princes accordingly. Yeven under our Signet, at my Lordis Manour of Grenewiche, the 7 day of September, in the 25th yere of my said Lordis reigne.
To oure right trustie and welbiloved, the Lorde Cobham.

During a lecture at the Newberry Library in Chicago on November 22, 2003, David Starkey stated that the most important document in Elizabeth’s life was the letter announcing her birth.  The Tudor Court needed a male heir.  Society held the  attitude that a woman would not be able to hold public office and have influence.

Anne Boleyn had disappointed Henry and the kingdom.  Everyone was yet to see the significance of the life of this child that began with such an unpleasant shock yet would produce a ruler with “the body of a weak and feeble woman …but the heart and stomach of a king, and a king of England too” (Marcus 326).

*The bailly was a French “Crown officer in whose name justice was administered throughout a certain district” (Hervey 38),

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