Path to St. Peter ad Vincula: Part V–A

Path to St. Peter ad Vincula:  Part V–A

Anne’s path to St. Peter ad Vincula involved political and religious reasons both on domestic and international levels.  This blog entry will deal with an issue that involved political and religious issues that were of a purely personal nature–her inability to provide Henry with a male heir.

Parliamentary members were obliged in 1533 to swear that the marriage between Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon was invalid, the marriage of Henry and Anne Boleyn valid and “that Elizabeth was born in lawful wedlock, and heir to the crown” (Sander 110).  Henry was optimistic (and as equally adamant) that this would be a temporary solution.  He would have a legitimate male heir and that would be the responsibility of Anne Boleyn. 

 catherine aragon
Katherine of Aragon

Producing the son Henry required would not prove easy.  Considering the stress she was under, Anne surprisingly conceived soon after Elizabeth’s birth.  In a letter written from his Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, Charles V heard as early as January 28, 1534,  that “Anne Boleyn is now pregnant and in condition to have more children” (Gairdner VII 114).  A month later on 26 February Chapuys reiterated that, while Henry was ironing out the succession between his daughters, he considered that “there was no other princess except his daughter Elizabeth, until he had a son which he thought would happen soon” (Gairdner VII  232).  George Tayllour [Taylor] wrote to Lady Lisle from Greenwich on 27 April 1534, that the “King and Queen are merry and in good health.  The Queen hath a goodly belly, praying our Lord to send us a prince” (Gairdner VII 556). 

Intriguingly, very little fanfare was made of Anne’s pregnancy in 1534. There are scant formal,diplomatic mentions of it—although on 7 July official instructions to George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, concerning the arrangements of a meeting between Anne and Marguerite, Queen of Navarre (while Henry would have been in France meeting King Francis) had to be “deferred, as the time would be very inconvenient to her….”  Anne would not be able to accompany Henry to France her “reasons are, that being so far gone with child, she could not cross the sea with the King, and she would be deprived of his Highness’s presence when it was most necessary” (Gairdner VII 958).  Later that month Chapuys still believed Anne to be pregnant as he mentioned again that meetings between Henry and Francis would have to be postponed because “those here say the reason is that the lady de Boulans (Anne Boleyn) wishes to be present, which is impossible on account of her condition” (Gairdner VII 1013). Were these references all to the same pregnancy?  January to July would encompass close to a full-term pregnancy yet no mention was made of a child being born and dying afterwards nor of any miscarriage.  Regardless, at least a single pregnancy had to have ended which was kept secret. 
marguerite navarre
Marguerite, Queen of Navarre

What emerges is another comment made by Chapuys in September of 1534 that the King did “doubt whether his lady was enceinte or not” (Gairdner VII 1193). Interesting phraseology as Anne was not in a precarious position at this time.  Certainly, she was vulnerable but there were neither hints of her being replaced nor plots to discard her—until nearly a year and a half later.

On January 7, 1536, Katherine of Aragon died at Kimbolton Castle.  Upon the death of Katherine, “Queen Anne did not carry this so decently as became a happy rival” (Burnet 106).  Anne gave the messenger who brought the news of Katherine’s death to her at Greenwich a substantial reward.  Famously, Henry and Anne put on a show of exuberance dressing in yellow instead of mourning for Katherine’s death and parading Elizabeth triumphantly.  Although as Charles V was apprised by his ambassador in late January, “notwithstanding the joy shown by the concubine at the news of the good Queen’s death… she had frequently wept, fearing that they might do with her as with the good Queen” (Gairdner X 199). 

Anne could see that the international situation was now altered and the domestic scene was less idyllic.  Without Katherine to prompt familial ties in Charles V, he could now concentrate on his Italian campaigns and as seen in a previous blog entry Path to St. Peter ad Vincula-Part IV,  the ties of France and England had lessened. At home, Henry had set his sights on Jane Seymour and it would not have taken much for Anne to wonder if she too would be replaced in the king’s affections. What Anne had in her favor was her latest pregnancy.  Unlike the pregnancy of 1534, there is no prior mention of the one in 1536.  Anne would have been aware that the successful delivery of a male heir would certainly secure her position.  Unfortunately, that was not to be.

While participating in a joust, Henry’s horse took a fall in the tiltyard on January 24, 1536, and the king lost consciousness for several hours.  The entire Court feared for his life and, even though Henry made an astounding recovery, more proved at stake than his recuperation.  Shortly thereafter, on 29 January the day of Katherine’s funeral, “Queene Anne was brought a bedd and delivered of a man chield, as it was said, afore  her tyme, for she said that she had reckoned herself at that tyme but fifteen weekes gonne with chield; it was said she tooke a fright, for the King ranne that tyme at the ring and had a fall from his horse, but he had no hurt; and she tooke such a fright withal that it caused her to fall in travaile, and so was delivered afore her full tyme” (Wriothesley 33).  The “excitement of the last few days had told upon her health, which constant anxiety had been steadily undermining” (Friedmann 199). 

King Henry VIII armor
Armour made for King Henry VIII

Ambassador Chapuys wrote the details as known to him in a dispatch to Charles V on 10 February 1536.  Some discrepancy occurred in the interpretations of the cause but readers should not be alarmed at the term abortion, as it is the 16th century translation of the word miscarriage.

“On the day of the interment [the burial of Katherine of Aragon] the Concubine had an abortion which seemed to be a male child which she had not borne 3½ months, at which the King has shown great distress. The said concubine wished to lay the blame on the duke of Norfolk, whom she hates, saying he frightened her by bringing the news of the fall the King had six days before. But it is well known that is not the cause, for it was told her in a way that she should not be alarmed or attach much importance to it. Some think it was owing to her own incapacity to bear children, others to a fear that the King would treat her like the late Queen, especially considering the treatment shown to a lady of the Court, named Mistress Semel, to whom, as many say, he has lately made great presents.” Henry’s attention to Jane Seymour (Mistress Semel) led many people to “fear the King might take another wife” (Gairdner X 282).

Chapuys continued that Henry VIII divulged to “his most trusted servants …Lord and Lady Exeter” (Friedmann 202-203) that “in great confidence, and as it were in confession, that he had made this marriage, seduced by witchcraft, and for this reason he considered it null; and that this was evident because God did not permit them to have any male issue, and that he believed that he might take another wife, which he gave to understand that he had some wish to do” (Gairdner X 199).   

A couple of weeks later Ambassador Chapuys wrote about Anne’s reasoning for the loss of the child to Charles V.  “The said Concubine attributed the misfortune to two causes: first, the King’s fall; and, secondly, that the love she bore him was far greater than that of the late Queen, so that her heart broke when she saw that he loved others” (Gairdner X 351). A later report, much disputed, claimed that Anne could not keep from scolding Henry and exclaimed “See, how well I must be since the day I caught that abandoned woman Jane sitting on your knees” (Sander 132).
charles v older
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor

Many at Court, especially the conservative faction considered that with “Queen Catharine being dead, the King might marry another, and be set right again with the Pope and the Emperor: and the issue by any other marriage would never be questioned; whereas, while Queen Anne lived, the ground of the controversy still remained, and her issue would be illegitimated, her marriage being null from the beginning, as they thought” (Burnet 109). Chapuys also believed the “King knew very well that his marriage to Anne could never be held as valid, for many reasons, …from another marriage, more legitimate than his last, the King might possibly have male issue” (de Gayangos V 43).

Continuing the theme of the legitimacy of Henry’s marriage to Anne, Chapuys wrote to Nicholas Granvelle (also known as Grenvelle), Chancellor to Charles V on 25 February 1536: “I am credibly informed that the Concubine, after her abortion, consoled her maids who wept, telling them it was for the best, because she would be the sooner with child again, and that the son she bore would not be doubtful like this one, which had been conceived during the life of the Queen; thereby acknowledging a doubt about the bastardy of her daughter” (Gairdner X 352). 

Would Anne have expressed herself in such a way as to question Elizabeth’s legitimacy?  It is hard to believe. 

One thing is sure, Anne believed she would have another child.  These sentiments were in direct contrast to those Chapuys wrote on 10 February 1536, to Chancellor Granvelle  “there are innumerable persons who consider that the concubine is unable to conceive, and say that the daughter said to be hers and the abortion the other day are supposititious” (Gairdner X 283). Rumors concerning the extremes of Anne’s behavior flew then and were maintained in the 1980s.  While traveling in England my husband and I were regaled with the story that Elizabeth was a changeling.  The story unfolded that the infant daughter that Anne gave birth to had died and fearing Henry’s wrath Anne found a substitute child of comparable age and coloring.  Unfortunately, the infant was a boy—and thus the reason Elizabeth never married.

The absurdity of the above story stands its own test, let alone the cruel irony that Anne desperately wanted a male child.  As Henry’s “new amours” continued toward Jane

“to the intense rage of the concubine” (Gairdner X 495).  ‘Les nouvelles amours de ce roy avec la demoyselle dont ait cydevant escript vont tousiours en avant a la grosse raige de la concubyne’ (Friedmann 202).  Chapuys wrote a fuller description of Jane to Granvelle’s son, Antoine Perronet, that he had no news “except to tell you something of the quality of the King’s new lady, which the Emperor and Granvelle would perhaps like to hear. She is sister of one Edward Semel, of middle stature and no great beauty, so fair that one would call her rather pale than otherwise” (Gairdner X 901).
Antonie Perrenot
Antoine Perronet, son of Chancellor Nicholas Granvelle

Apparently, Henry overlooked that Jane was not “a woman of great wit” and that “she inclines to be proud and haughty” (Gairdner X 901).  He seemed delighted that her temperament was “between the gravity of Queen Catharine, and the pleasantness of Queen Anne” (Burnet 109).  As for Jane’s virtue, it was opinioned by Perrenot that “although Henry necessarily affected to believe in her virtue, she was no better than the other young women of a coarse and dissolute court” (Friedmann 201). Ambassador Chapuys gave the opinion that Henry would make it a condition of the marriage that Jane be a virgin so “when he has a mind to divorce her he will find enough of witnesses” (Gairdner X 901).  Despite the contemporary beliefs of Jane’s uprightness, the King “was as well pleased with a decent appearance of virtue as with virtue itself” (Friedmann 201 – 202). 

Jane’s influence, therefore, increased, and the “whole party of Anne became seriously alarmed” (Friedmann 201 – 202). A gloating Sander reported that Anne faced a serious rival, “for the king began to grow weary of Anne” (Sander 132).  “The poor Queen used all possible arts to reinflame a dying affection; but the King was changed” (Burnet 109).

Not only was Henry growing weary of Anne, his “old conscience began to work again” (Pollard 343).  Contemporaries mentioned that Anne’s “miscarriage was thought to have made an ill impression on the King’s mind, who from thence concluded that this marriage was displeasing to God” (Wriorthesley 33).

Henry’s marked coldness to Anne was remarked upon by many contemporary sources; what varied was the degree of his ill-favor.  Chapuys learned “from several persons of Court” that Henry had “not spoken ten times to the Concubine, and that when she miscarried he scarcely said anything to her, except that he saw clearly that God did not wish to give him male children” (Gairdner X 351).  Henry went to her bedside “bewailing and complaining unto her the loss of his boy,”(Cavendish 208-209) and “gruffly told her that he now saw that God would not give him a son; then, rising to leave, he said harshly that when she recovered he would speak to her” (Friedmann 199).  From the time of the miscarriage “henceforth the harm still more increased, and he was then heard to say to her:  he would have no more boys by her” (Cavendish 209).

It is obvious to see that reports shifted from Henry declaring that God denied him male children to the conviction that he would have no sons by Anne.  These could be the result of translations committed after the fact, as history showed what eventually were Henry’s actions even if, at the end of January 1536, he was not set on the course of repudiating Anne.  Nicholas Sander claims Anne had an inkling as Henry greeted her after her miscarriage “by saying, ‘Be of good cheer, sweetheart, you will have no reason to complain of me again’and went away sorrowing” (Sander 132). The altered demeanor of the king towards Anne was generally remarked upon, and “held to bode no good to her” (Friedmann 203) and “was a great discompfort to all in this realm” (Wriothesley 33).
Anne Boleyn B necklace
Queen Anne Boleyn

The king was frustrated at Anne’s miscarriage and was maddened at her reprimands over his association with Jane Seymour.  That Anne was indiscrete and flirtatious with members of Court could be believed but her biggest mistake was not understanding the strength of Henry’s passion for Jane Seymour.  Years earlier it had been commented about Henry that “rather than miss or want any part of his will or appetite he would put the loss of one half of his kingdom in danger, and that he had often knelled before him the space of an hour or two to persuade him from his will and appetite, but could never bring to pass to dissuade him therefrom” (Cavendish 45).  Henry was used to getting his own way and not encountering much resistance.  Yet, thwarted he was in the incidence with the greatest meaning to him, the birth of a son.  

For References please refer to the blog entry Path to St. Peter ad Vincula–Part I

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Path to St. Peter ad Vincula-Part IV

Path to St. Peter ad Vincula-Part IV

Thomas Cromwell and Thomas Cranmer were more pliable to Anne’s ideas and cause than Cardinal Wolsey.  Cromwell as Chief Minister pushed through Parliament several reform measures including the creation of the King as Head of the Church of England. Cranmer, appointed Archbishop of Canterbury after the death of William Warham, declared the end to Henry and Katherine’s marriage. The age of Wolsey was over.

thomas cromwell
Thomas Cromwell

Anne Boleyn owed a great deal to Thomas Cromwell. He put into effect his plan to frighten the clergy into submission and sever the English Church from Rome– but it was quite a time before it could be implemented. His plan he felt sure “could not of course fail to please Anne, to whom it held out a sure way of obtaining what she desired” (Friedmann 135-136).  At the Convocation of Canterbury in January 1531, under threat the clergy acknowledged Henry as “singular protector, supreme lord and even, so far as the law of Christ allows, supreme head of the English Church and clergy” (Haigh 108).  Added to the brilliance of the plan was the fact that the members of the Privy Council who “generally opposed the measures brought forward by Anne’s friends, willingly assented to a scheme which would weaken the influence of the bishops” (Friedmann 135-136).

Despite the capitulation of the Clergy, all was not smooth sailing for Henry and Anne.  By May 22, 1531, Eustace Chapuys, the Spanish Ambassador, reported to Charles V that “the clergy of York and Durham sent to the King a strong protestation against the supremacy which he pretends to have over them.  The King is greatly displeased, still more because one of his couriers coming from Rome has brought him news that his Ambassadors there are afraid that the Pope will definitively quash the process” (Gairdner 251).  This was “a serious defeat for Anne’s party.”  Legislation to force the clergy and Parliament to submit had to be abandoned as priests protested “against any encroachments on the liberty of the Church or any act derogatory to the authority of the Holy See” (Friedmann 142).  Resistance did not last and in 1534 Henry passed the Acts of Supremacy and of Succession.  Legally he was Head of the Church of England and his marriage to Katherine of Aragon was annulled and that of Anne legitimized along with any children from their union. All seemed to be going well;  Anne was Queen and the Protestant reform movement was gaining momentum.  What happened?

Anne encountered forces stronger than her influence on Henry.  She disagreed with the King over the dissolution of the monasteries, she clashed with Thomas Cromwell over international politics and Anne underestimated Henry’s frustration at not having a male heir, his attraction for Jane Seymour and the Court’s ability to use those domestic issues against her and the evangelical faction.

Henry VIII committed to improving the religious houses in England.  He sent agents out to track adherence to monastic orders’ rules and to account for the wealth of each. He ordered the Commission for the Valuation of Ecclesiastical Benefices stressing his right as Supreme Head of the Church, “Henricus Octavus, Dei gratia Agnlie et Francie Rex, Fidei Defensor, Dominus Hibernie et in terra Supremum Capud Anglicane Ecclesie, Reverendo in Christo patri J[ohanni] Episcopo Exoniensi ac dilectis et fidelbus suis Salutem” (Hall A Formula Book of English Official Historical Documents 63).

Henry VIII
Henry VIII –attributed to the circle of Holbein 1535-1541

Commissioners appointed by King Henry were to “examyn, serche and enquire, by all the ways and meanes that they can by their dyscrections, of and for the true and just hole and entire yerely values of all the manours, londes, tenements, hereditamentes, rentes, tythes, offerings, emoluments and all other profittes, as well spitrituall as temporall, apperteyninge or belonging to any Archebusshopriche, Busshoprich, Abbacye, Monasterie, Priorie, Archdeaconry, Deanry, Hospitall, College, Howse Collegyate … or any other benefice or promocion sprituall within the lymyttes of their Commyssion” (Hall A Formula Book of English Official Historical Documents 62).  Henry also wanted to know “in what manner the revenewes and profitts” were used (Leach ii).

Once the Valor Ecclesiasticus had been presented to Parliament on February 5, 1536, creating the dismay that Henry and Cromwell hoped it would, the Legislature quickly formulated and implemented new policy by mid-March. It certainly was easy to see what Henry’s main purpose was.  He needed money, a lot of it, having gone through the vast fortune his father had left him.  Confiscating the property of religious houses would provide that wealth.

The Act of the Dissolution of the Lesser Monasteries of 1536 (also known as The Suppression of Religious Houses Act), deemed the lesser monastic houses sinful and wasteful.  All the occupants were ordered to transfer to larger monasteries where they would be reformed to live more religiously.  It was proclaimed that Parliament finally revolved “that it is and shall be much more to the pleasure of Almighty God, and for the honour of this his realm, that the possessions of such religious houses, now being spent, spoiled, and wasted for increase maintenance of sin, should be used and converted to better uses.”  Parliament authorized “that his majesty shall have and enjoy to him and to his heirs for ever, all and singular such monasteries, priories, and other religious houses” the land, rent, chapels and all their property “with all their rights, profits, jurisdictions, and commodities, unto the King’s majesty, and to his heirs and assigns for ever, to do and use therewith his and their own wills, to the pleasure of Almighty God, and to honour and profit this realm….”  Not daring to leave anything behind, the Act of Suppression gave the rights for the “…King’s highness shall have and enjoy to his own proper use, all the ornaments, jewels, goods, chattels and debts, which appertained to any of the chief governors of the said monasteries” (“Act for the Dissolution of the Lesser Monasteries”).

Eustace Chapuys, Spanish Ambassador to Charles V wrote “The King and Council are busy setting officers for the provision and exaction of the revenues of the churches which are to be suppressed; which, it is said, will be in number above 300, and are expected to bring in a revenue of 120,000 ducats. The silver plate, chalices, and reliquaries, the church ornaments, bells, lead from the roofs, cattle, and furniture belonging to them, which will come to the King, will be of inestimable amount. All these lords are intent on having farms of the goods of the said churches, and already the dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk are largely provided with them. I am told that although Cromwell promoted in the first instance the demolition of the said churches, that nevertheless, seeing the dangers that might arise from it, he was anxious to prevent them, for which reason the King had been somewhat angry with him” (Gairdner X 601).

chapuys
Eustace Chapuys, Spanish Ambassador to England

The busy Ambassador wrote that same day, March 18, 1536, to his fellow Hapsburg statesman, Cardinal Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle (sometimes referred to as Granville or Grenville): “You will see by the letters I write to his Majesty, the gentle device of this King to extract money on pretext of charity by means of the offerings. If it succeeds, as no doubt it will, he will gain an immense sum of money, for he will impose a tax according to his will which everyone will have to offer, and not engage to do so for once but for all the other innumerable inventions that this King daily puts forward in order to get money, at which the people is terribly grieved and almost desperate, but no man dare complain ” (Gairdner X 495).  Contemporaries discussed Cranmer’s sermon which assured the people that the king would now gain so much treasure “that from that time he should have no need, nor put the people to … any charge for his or the realm’s affairs” (Heal 145).

The monasteries did need some reform. It was not unique to England and it was not so much against the religion as to the laxity that befell many religious houses.  Henry’s and Cromwell’s greed were not the sole motivators.  Local landed gentry also eagerly eyed the wealth of the lands of their neighbors.  Already indebted to each other, the monasteries and noble estates had been intertwined for years. Abbots had long been “giving up part of their revenues, in the form of pensions …to courtiers, in the hope of being allowed to retain the remainder” (Pollard 340).  But Henry had hit upon an enormous source of wealth in his position as Supreme Head of the Church of England. And perhaps, not beyond the one time infusion as Chapuys further opinioned that “the King will greatly increase his revenue” (Gairdner X 494).

Statute 575
 Transcription of the above Statute

“An Acte whereby all Relygeous Houses of Monks, Chanons, and Nonnes whiche may not dyspend Manors Lands  Tenants & Heredytaments above the clere yerly Value of ij C E are geven to the Kings Highness his heirs and Successours for ever.  The Byll for the suppressing of dy__ Places of Relygion” (“The Statutes of the Realm”)

Oddly enough Henry was not made astronomically wealthy–he needed to cover debts and he distributed much of the wealth to his nobles. Thus, the view must be that the dissolution’s intention was not to make Henry wealthy but to bribe the gentry to support Henry’s policies. Chapuys reported to Charles V that “the King will distribute among the gentlemen of the kingdom the greater part of the ecclesiastical revenues to gain their goodwill” (Gairdner VII 1141).  “The dissolution of the monasteries harmonised well with the secular principles of the predominant classes” (Pollard 342).

Whom it did not harmonize well with was Queen Anne Bolyen.

On Passion Sunday, April 2, 1536, John Skip, chaplain to Anne Boleyn, preached a sermon to the entire Court with his target “scarcely disguised” as Thomas Cromwell (Heal 142).  Taking his theme from Biblical text, he asked, Quis ex vobis arguet me de peccato? Which of you convinceth me of sin? (Newcombe).  The message of this incendiary sermon was to encourage Henry’s advisors to cease their greed and do what was right for the people, especially the poor. Skip altered the Esther Biblical story to stress “to courtiers and counselors alike to change the advice they were giving the king and to reject the lure of personal gain” (Ives 309).

Assuerus_Haman_a
Ahasuerus and Haman at the Feast of Esther by Rembrandt

Eric Ives in the text, The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, supported by other historians, has analyzed Skip’s symbolism-laden sermon and has pointed out the correlation between this sermon and Anne’s disagreement with Cromwell over how the proceeds from the dissolution of the lesser monasteries should be used. Cranmer even ran afoul of Henry later by not consenting “that the king should have all the revenues of the monasteries which were suppressed, to his own sole use” (Dodd 21).  Many understood that Henry could have the lands to do with as he wished but that the wealth should be “bestowed on hospitals, schools, and other pious and charitable foundations” (Dodd 21).  It appeared to be common knowledge that Anne too wanted the money to be “devoted to furthering the cause of reform rather than filling the king’s coffers” (Newcombe).

It must be clarified that Anne was not against the monasteries being suppressed.  She disagreed with the King and Cromwell on how the funds should be distributed. She wanted to follow her inclinations by having the revenues assist the poor and help scholars, causes she was known to patronize.

George Wyatt praised Anne for making shirts and smocks for the poor, and remarking that her charity “passed through the whole land” and she gave “fifteen hundred pounds* at the least, yearly, to be bestowed on the poor” with another fourteen or fifteen thousand pounds** being given in alms and to support scholars (Cavendish II 207).
John Foxe commended Anne for “how bountiful she was to the poor, passing not only the common example of other queens, but also the revenues almost of her estate; insomuch that the alms which she gave in three quarters of a year, in distribution, …to the behalf of poor artificers and occupiers” (Foxe 232-234).
John_Foxe
John Foxe

The Scottish cleric, Alexander Alesius, referred to Anne Boleyn as ‘your most holy mother’ when writing to Elizabeth.  He clearly believed that Elizabeth’s “very pious mother” formed many enemies at Court for “her desire to promote the pure doctrine of the Gospel and her kindness to the poor” (Stevenson 1303-15).

Anne more than likely could not imagine that her preferences would be gainsaid. Her influence over Henry was well-known.  Even in the Privy-Council her impact could be felt.  Jean du Bellay, Bishop of Bayonne, the French Ambassador relayed a story that council member, Thomas Boleyn, “allowed everything to be said, and then came and suggested the complete opposite, defending his position without budging, as though he wanted to show me that he was not pleased that anyone should have failed to pay court to the lady [Anne], and also to make me accept that what he had said before is true, that is, that all the rest have no influence except what it pleases the lady to allow them, and that is gospel truth.  And because of this he wanted with words and deeds to beat down their opinions before my eyes” (Ives 126).

Yet, Anne was going to see more and more of her influence slip away. Not only was she not seeing eye-to-eye with Cromwell over the use of the monies gained from the dissolution of the monasteries, international politics also added a level of tension and discord.  Charles V now needed an alliance with England against France.

A long-time ally of Anne’s, Francis, King of France, was being replaced in Henry’s diplomatic play book with Charles V.  What emerged was the famously orchestrated meeting between Chapuys and Anne. On April 18, 1536, George Boleyn greeted the Ambassador who was invited by Henry via message to meet Anne and kiss her hand as she made her way to chapel.  Chapuys excused himself from that honor, as this was a bit much even though he knew that Henry’s move from favoring the French to the Imperial side was vital. Chapuys was in a difficult position as he was personally loyal to the late Queen Katherine and Princess Mary—more so than to the woman he referred to as “the concubine.”

The play unfolded as Anne acknowledged the Ambassador at chapel and he had to bow in return.  She asked after him specifically and made some anti-French remarks.  Henry swung the other way as he wanted his feigned pro-French stance to force the Imperial hand.  It was Cromwell’s turn to be in a bind.  If the Imperial acceptance of her was what negotiations hinged on, he needed to do something.  Cromwell cultivated his relationship with Chapuys.  Knowing that the Ambassador greatly disliked the Queen and would probably believe the words, Cromwell told the Ambassador that Anne “would like to see his [Cromwell’s] head cut off” and Chapuys could not forget this “for the love I bore him; and I could not but wish him a more gracious mistress, and one more grateful for the inestimable services he had done the King, and that he must beware of enraging her” and warned that Cromwell deserved better treatment “than did the Cardinal.” This illusion to Wolsey accompanied Chapuys’ veiled warning that he hoped that Cromwell’s greater “dexterity and prudence” would stand him well in his dealings with Anne (Gairdner X 601).
anneboleyn
Anne Boleyn 

It appeared as if Cromwell was working closely with Chapuys to further the relations between their two countries.  Chapuys wrote in April of 1536 to the Emperor that Cromwell had assured him that he was “very desirous of the preservation and increase of friendship of his master’s with Your Majesty, and is daily doing good offices in that respect—not only pointing out those measures which he considers most fit under the circumstances, but advising also of his own accord, and working for the accomplishment of our mutual wishes” (de Gayangos V 43).  At their meeting, Cromwell “replied five or six times, with great fervour, that it was a good beginning for the matter of the preservation of the amity of which we had so often talked, to which the King was more inclined than ever, and likewise those of his Council … and Cromwell assured me, on his life and honor, that the King had never treated anything in France, Germany, or elsewhere, to the prejudice of the friendship he has with your Majesty” (Gairdner X 601).

Domestically, Cromwell managed to upset both pro-French and pro-Imperial factions in England.  Internationally, events took a more favorable turn.  Charles V continued his overtures of friendship, the Pope became more inclined to treat with England, and Francis I became sidelined—all international events which weakened Anne’s position and nudged Cromwell to act.

Oddly enough, Cromwell’s station, his continued political position and his economic gains were because of Anne’s support.  Her influence over Henry could have swung the king’s favor to another councilor. Perhaps it was this precariousness or the rise of the more evangelical faction led by such young men as George Boleyn and Henry Norris or his own interest in intrigue or, most likely, a combination of reasons which led Cromwell to move against Anne.

George_Boleyn_signature
George Boleyn’s signature

Cromwell assessed the situation and determined that it would be better if he “took the side of the conservative churchmen against those who had been hitherto considered Anne’s principal supporters” (Friedmann II 226). Cromwell knew that having “identified himself so closely with the measures against the Roman Church, he could not but fear that, if its authority were re-established, he would fare very badly at its hands”  (Friedmann II 55-56).

By March of 1536, Cromwell tried a more moderate approach with success as, surprisingly, those in opposition to Anne, by March of 1536, included fellow Protestants.  The more radical groups believed reform was not moving fast enough and the more moderate thought enough changes had been made.  Cromwell felt his position strengthened and the Secretary most likely saw the way Henry was treating Anne and his interest in Jane Seymour. Chapuys gleefully reported that “the Concubine and Cromwell were on bad terms, and that some new marriage for the King was spoken of” (Gairdner X 601).

In early 1536 Henry was certainly paying attention to Jane Seymour.  Chapuys remarked to his king that the “new amours of this King with the young lady…still go on, to the intense rage of the concubine” (Gairdner X 495).  It was suspected that the King “believed that he might take another wife, which he gave to understand that he had some wish to do” (Gairdner X 199).

jane holbien to use
Jane Seymour by Holbein 

At first it appeared to Chapuys that Henry was going to negotiate with France to obtain a French Princess and “was now thinking of a fresh marriage, that would, no doubt, be the way of preserving him (Cromwell) from many inconveniences, and likewise the best thing for the King to do” (de Gayangos V 43).  Chapuys certainly hoped that a new marriage for Henry would bring “peace, honour, and prosperity to England” and would provide Cromwell “another royal mistress, not out of hatred of Anne Boleyn, for she had never done me any harm, but for his own sake” (de Gayangos V 43).  Regardless of the rumors of a French alliance, Chapuys was assured by Cromwell shortly after he had written about his speculation of a French marriage, “that the King had already fixed on a wife, to wit Jane Semel” (Gairdner X 1069).  Anne Boleyn had less than a month to live.

Cromwell knowing many men of the Privy Chamber such as Nicholas Carew “never accepted the new Queen with any more grace than was needed to avoid their own ruin,” headed the move against Anne (MacCulloch 154). The Spanish Ambassador “monitored these events with increasing excitement, and probably acted as a go-between for the union of Cromwell’s plans and those of the conservatives” (MacCulloch 154). 

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Nicholas Carew

Taking the religious issue to the domestic sphere, the conservatives and Cromwell exploited the King’s interest in Jane Seymour.  Chapuys wrote to the Imperial Court on 1 April 1536, that “certainly it appears to me that if it succeeds, it will be a great thing … to remedy the heresies here, of which the Concubine is the cause and principal nurse, and also to pluck the King from such an abominable and more than incestuous marriage” (Gairdner X 601).  By the middle of April when John Skip gave his sermon on Passion Sunday, it became obvious that rumors of intrigues “were beginning to fly around the Court” (MacCulloch 154). Skip showed great nerve by attacking Henry VIII and Jane Seymour using the analogy of King Solomon who blemished his own reputation by his “sensual and carnal aptitude in taking many wives and concubines” (MacCulloch 154).

Jane protected her own reputation evidenced by the famous story that Chapuys relayed.  Supposedly “some days ago, the King being here in London, and, the young Miss Seymour, to whom he is paying court at Greenwich, he sent her a purse full of sovereigns, together with a letter, and that the young damsel, after respectfully kissing the letter, returned it to the messenger without opening it, and then falling on her knees, begged the royal messenger to entreat the King in her name to consider that she was a well-born damsel, the daughter of good and honourable parents without blame or reproach of any kind; there was no treasure in this world that she valued as much as her honour, and on no account would she lose it, even if she were to die a thousand deaths. That if the King wished to make her a present of money, she requested him to reserve it for such a time as God would be pleased to send her some advantageous marriage” (de Gayangos V 43). 

Evidently, this episode, well-orchestrated by Jane and her advisors, had the following reaction by Henry.  The “King’s love and desire towards the said lady was wonderfully increased, and that he had said she had behaved most virtuously, and to show her that he only loved her honorably, he did not intend henceforth to speak with her except in presence of some of her kin; for which reason the King has caused Cromwell to remove from a chamber to which the King can go by certain galleries without being perceived, and has lodged there the eldest brother of the said lady [Edward Seymour] with his wife, in order to bring thither the same young lady, who has been well taught for the most part by those intimate with the King, who hate the concubine, that she must by no means comply with the King’s wishes except by way of marriage; in which she is quite firm” (Gairdner X 601).

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Edward Seymour

Intentions of a third marriage were already firmly believed by many at Court as early as January 1536.  A gleeful Chapuys imagined that Henry knew “how much his subjects abominate the marriage contracted with the concubine, and that not one considers it legitimate” (de Gayangos V 43).  Henry stated “in great confidence, and as it were in confession, that he had made this marriage, seduced by witchcraft, and for this reason he considered it null; and that this was evident because God did not permit them to have any male issue, and that he believed that he might take another wife, which he gave to understand that he had some wish to do” (Gairdner X 199).

Henry was very taken with Jane Seymour but realized he could not have a repeat scenario of a living divorced wife.  How actively involved was Henry in eliminating Anne and many of the leading evangelicals?  That is a difficult question to answer although Cromwell, according to Chapuys, took full credit as the person “who had discovered and followed up the affair of the Concubine, in which he had taken a great deal of trouble, and that, … he had set himself to arrange the plot (a fantasier et conspirer led affaire)” to protect the king (Gairdner 1069).  To protect and to please the king?

Surprisingly, Cromwell himself will be put to death by Henry.  Frustrated over the machinations that forced him to marry Anne of Cleeves, Henry was persuaded by Cromwell’s enemies to charge him with treason.  Years later, the Scottish cleric, Alexander Alesius wrote to Elizabeth Regina that Cromwell “was punished by the just judgment of God, because he had loved the King more than God; and that out of deference to his Sovereign he had caused many innocent persons to be put to death, not sparing your most holy mother, nor had he obeyed her directions in promoting the doctrine of the Gospel” (Stevenson I 51).  

Cromwell’s contemporary, Nicholas Shaxton, appointed Bishop of Salisbury at Anne’s urging–one of the clerics “who favoured the purer doctrine of the Gospel, and to whom she [Anne] had intrusted the care of it” (Stevenson I 15), wrote to Cromwell on May 23rd shortly after her death, “I beseech you, Sir, in vis[ceribus] Jesu Christi, that ye will now be no less diligent [in setting] forth the honour of God and his Holy Word, than [when] the late Queen was alive, and often incit[ed you thereto]” (Gairdner X 942). Interesting that a known evangelical saw the need to prod Cromwell to maintain the strides made in the name of reform.  It appears to this blogger that the reformers realized that Henry was too much a conservative at heart to continue the cause of evangelical dogma without the advocacy of Anne.  Cromwell was likely to be swayed in the direction of his king. 
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Salisbury Cathedral 

Anne, identified as a “zealous defender of Christ’s gospel” would use her influence so that “her acts… will declare to the world’s end” her theological ideals (Foxe V 232-234).  At the time of her death, it was inconceivable that Anne’s most lasting influence on the Protestant faith would be in the form of her three-year old daughter, Elizabeth. 

Upon her acquisition of the throne, Alesius urged her to “guard herself from the snares of the devil, who were the cause of her mother’s death in consequence of her love for the doctrine of the Gospel while it was in its infancy, and afterwards persecuted those persons whom she appointed to watch over the Church” (Stevenson I 1303).

For References, please refer to the blog entry, Path to St. Peter ad Vincula-Part I

Path to St. Peter ad Vincula–Part II

Path to St. Peter ad Vincular—Part II

Anne Bolyen’s path to her final resting place in St. Peter ad Vincular began the minute King Henry VIII turned his full attention on her.  The personal element of their courtship is not the subject of this blog entry, rather the political and religious maneuverings that culminated in their marriage.

Once Anne came onto the scene, Henry’s previous scruples of being married to his brother’s widow, which was unclean as taught by scripture, became magnified.  It was unacceptable to be married to Katherine of Aragon any longer.  Henry had negotiated with the French King, Francis I, in order to gain support in his bid for a divorce. He also had contact with his nephew-by-marriage, Charles V, to no avail.  Added to these attempts to treat, Henry gathered the opinions of university scholars and theologians throughout Europe in order to bend the Pope to claim in his favor.  Nothing happened as the Pope, in this delicate position, procrastinated.  In frustration Henry wrote to Clement VII on December 6, 1530, from Hampton Court of his displeasure.  Henry believed that “his demands, however just and reasonable, are put aside” and that “sometimes he cannot believe the Pope to have done what he knows he has done.”  Clement refused to allow the divorce case to be heard in England against the support of the French King and his councilors and “also the whole nobility and leading men in England” (Brewer IV 6759).  An exasperated Henry exclaimed that the Pope had shown “by his acts before all the world that he is wholly devoted to the Emperor’s will.” Even more interesting is the fact that Henry, having read William Tyndale’s text (more on that below), laid it out to Clement that if he desires “his own rights to be respected, let him not interfere with those of Henry” and “let him not suppose that either the King or his nobles will allow the fixed laws of his kingdom to be set aside.”  Henry would not let “the laws of England suffer the contrary, and … he will not brook denial” (Brewer IV 6759).

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Pope Clement VII Portrait by Sebastiano del Piombo, 1526

Clement VII responded to Henry’s letter on January 7, 1531, and told Henry “there are many things in your letters in which we miss your usual wisdom, and even your modesty” and denied the “taunt that we are governed by the Emperor” Charles V.  Clement claimed that it was “clear from the complaints against him made by the Emperor” that he had not submitted to Charles’ demands (Gairdner V 31).

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Pope Clement VII response to Henry VIII letter

Clement addressed the charge that the case could not be heard in England.  He admitted “that this is so, because it is the peculiar privilege of the Holy See to refer to himself all causes which in any province cannot be effectively determined” and the “Apostolic See allowed her [Katherine] allegation to be considered sufficient, that England was a suspected place, as the King was her opponent” (Gairdner V 31).  Contrary to what Henry had been reading in Tyndale, the Pope emphasized that the kingdom’s laws would not be violated “provided they can be preserved without scandal to the Catholic Church, which is to be preferred to all law.” Perhaps suspecting the loss of Henry to the cause of the Catholic Church Clement beseeched him to remember “his title of Defender of the Faith, and peaceably arrange this cause, or acquiesce in the judgment of the Holy See” (Gairdner V 31).

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Anonymous writer’s defense of the Pope

Henry remained as patient as he could for two more years awaiting the Pope’s decision, but with Anne pregnant he took action and married her in January 1533.  In a proclamation Henry declared that he was “married and espoused according to the laws of God and holy Church to the lady Anne, his lawful wife, who as appertaineth to the estate is by the said assent anointed and crowned Queen of this realm” (Pocock 497).  Henry further created a Proclamation in June 1533 to warn his subjects “to avoid the danger and penalty of the Statue of Provision and Premunire” which laid out his divorce from Katherine of Aragon and the fact that he “hath lawfully married and taken to wife, after the laws of the Church, the right high and ecellent princess Lady Anne now Queen of England, and she solemnly crowned and anointed as pertaineith, to the laud, praise, and honour of Almighty God, the surety of the king’s succession and posterity, and to the great joy, comfort, and contantation of all the subjects of this realm” (Pocock 502).  Despite the universal happiness of the realm that Henry proclaimed occurred upon the announcement of his marriage, he had to explain to his people that his divorce from Katherine was final and anyone in doubt would “incur and run in the pains and penalties comprised in the statutes” (Pocock 502).

Within England, the pro-Catholic and the pro-Imperial factions rejoiced when Pope Clement annulled the marriage of Henry and Anne on July 11, 1533, by proclaiming, “Sententia deffinitiva Clementis Popæ septimi pro matrimonio Henrici Octavi Angliæ  Regis cum Catharinâ et contra secundas ejusdem nuptias cum Annâ Bolenâ.  Data Romæ anno Domini 1533.  Pontificatûs Clementis decimo” (Pocock 677).  Of course, Henry ignored the command.  Anne was the one to suffer from the ill will of those in England loyal to the old faith.

Samuel Singer, as editor of the George Cavendish work on Thomas Wolsey, commented that since the “marriage of Henry with Anne Bullen led to the separation of the kingdom from the See of Rome, her memory has consequently always been vituperated in all possible ways by every true son of the Catholic Church…” Protestant writers have not “been wanting in zeal to defend the queen from all the unjust aspersions upon her character, and have considered her as a martyr to the cause of the reformed church” (Cavendish II 44).  However, what was Anne’s true role?  Was she a staunch supporter of the reformed church?  Was she using the Reformation as a means to an end for her acquisition of the queenship? Most pieces of ‘evidence’ could be interpreted to support either proposition.

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An engraving of Anne Boleyn in the cover George Cavendish’s book, said to be after the original portrait by Holbein.

A story collaborated by John Foxe and George Wyatt (added in George Cavendish’s work on Wolsey) related how Anne Boleyn shared with Henry a copy of the banned book The Obedience of a Christian Man written in 1528 by William Tyndale.  Advocating, among other things, that a king of a country should be the head of the Church not the Pope, Tyndale’s claims were radical and dangerous to say the least.  Although the idea of the divine right of kings did not take a firm foothold during the Tudor era, Henry embraced the idea that a pope had no earthly authority and that the king “is the minister of God,” and kings “are God’s ministers serving for the same purpose….” Henry welcomed Tyndale’s claim that “God therefore hath given laws unto all nations, and in all lands hath put kings, governors, and rulers in his own stead, to rule the world through them” (Tyndale 25).

Therefore while the Catholics blamed Anne for revealing the book to Henry in order to obtain the divorce from Katherine through strengthening his resolve to break from Rome and create a Church under his leadership, the Protestants praised her because “the help of this virtuous Lady, by the means aforesaid, had his eyes opened to the truth, to advance God’s religion and glory, to abhor the Pope’s doctrine” (Strype 172).

Anne had promoted Protestant ideas and had in her possession several banned books beyond Tyndale’s which she shared with Henry.  It appears as if the King enjoyed Simon Fish’s Supplication of the Beggars (Warnicke 111-112) and accepted some of the doctrines of the Protestants.  Henry was a conservative and did not alter many of the Church doctrines.  Anne was the more liberal.  The Scottish clergyman and historian, Alexander Alesius, wrote Elizabeth Regina “true religion in England had its commencement and its end with your mother” (Denny 132).  Influenced by Anne, many ecclesiastical appointments were of evangelical “scholars who favoured the purer doctrine of the gospel” (Denny 212).  Men such as Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer, and Nicholas Shaxton were the most prominent.  Members of her own household were also more liberal including her chaplain, Matthew Parker, future Archbishop of Canterbury, to whom she entrusted the spiritual life of her toddler daughter, Elizabeth, to him in the event of anything happening to her.

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William Tyndale

Another Protestant doctrine from Tyndale that Anne embraced was the theory that the Bible should be translated into the vernacular.  Showing her reluctance to push conservatives too far by disobeying a strictly forbidden work, Anne never owned an English language Bible—she had one in French.

For References, please refer to the blog entry, Path to St. Peter ad Vincula-Part I

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).

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 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.
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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).

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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).

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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).

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Theologian, Philipp Melancthon
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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.
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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).
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Jean de Dinteville, French Ambassador 
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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).

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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).
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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.
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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),

References

Brewer, J.S. (editor).  “Henry VIII: July 1527, 1-10.” Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 4: 1524-1530 (1875): 1465-1477. British History Online. Web. 02 June 2013.

Denny, Joanna. Anne Boleyn: A New Life of England’s Tragic Queen. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo, 2006. Google Books. Web. 7 June 2013.

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

Eakins, Laura. “Elizabeth Birth Announcement.” TudorHistory. Google+Page, n.d. Web. 2 June 2013.

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

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

Foxe, John. The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe: A New and Complete Edition. Ed. Stephen Reed Cattley, M. A., Rev. Vol. V. London: R.B. Seeley and W. Burnside, 1837. Google Books. Web. 4 June 2013.

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

Gairdner, James (editor). “Henry VIII: Miscellaneous, 1533.” Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 6: 1533 (1882): 449-466; 653-680. British History Online. Web. 02 June 2013.

Hall, Edward, Henry Ellis, and Richard Grafton. Hall’s Chronicle; Containing the History of England, during the Reign of Henry the Fourth, and the Succeeding Monarchs, to the End of the Reign of Henry the Eighth, in Which Are Particularly Described the Manners and Customs of Those Periods. London: Printed for J. Johnson and J. Rivington; T. Payne; WIlkie and Robinson; Longman, Hurst, Rees and Orme; Cadell and Davies; and J. Mawman, 1809. Internet Archive.org. Web. 2 Jan. 2013.

Hervey, Mary F. S., and Hans D. J. Holbein. Holbein’s ‘Ambassadors’, the Picture and the Men. London: G. Bell & Sons, 1900. Google Books. Web. 13 June 2013.

Hibbert, Christopher.  The Virgin Queen: Elizabeth I, Genius of the Golden Age.  New

York: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc., 1991.  Print.

Hurren, Elizabeth T., Dr., Senior Lecturer History of Medicine Oxford Brookes University.  “Henry VIII’s Medical World.” Henry VIII’s Medical World. Wellness Trust at Oxford Brookes University, n.d. Web. 7 June 2013.

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

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

Marcus, Leah S. et al., eds. Elizabeth I: The Collected Works. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002. Print.

Nichols, Francis Morgan. The Hall of Lawford Hall: Records of an Essex House and of Its Proprietors,. London: Printed for the Author, 1880-1890, and Sold by Ellis and Elvey, 1891. Google Books. Web. 4 June 2013.

Ridgway, Claire.  The Fall of Anne Boleyn:  A Countdown.  UK:  MadeGlobal Publishing, 2012. Print.

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

Starkey, David.  Elizabeth:  The Struggle for the Throne. New York:  HarperCollins Publishers. 2001. Print

Starkey, David, Dr. “Queen Elizabeth and Her Court.” Elizabeth I: Ruler and Legend. Newberry Library, Chicago. 22 Nov. 2003. Lecture.

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

Strickland, Agnes. The Life of Queen Elizabeth, London: J.M. Dent &, 1906. Google Books. Web. 3 June 2013.

THECREATIONOFANNEBOLEYN. “Anne and Elizabeth: Consulting the Stars for Elizabeth’s Birth.” Web log post. Semper Eadem. WordPress.com, 28 Aug. 2011. Web. 2 June 2013.

Tytler, Sarah.  Tudor Queens and Princesses.  New York:  Barnes and Noble, 1993. Print.

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

Weir, Alison.  The Lady in the Tower:  The Fall of Anne Boleyn.  London:  Jonathan Cape, 2009.  Print.

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

Whitelock, Anna.  Mary Tudor:  Princess, Bastard, Queen. New York:  Random House, 2009. Print.

His Last Letter

His Last Letter

At her death in 1603, Leicester’s last letter* to Elizabeth (written six days before his death in September 1588) was found in a small casket by her bed with “His Last Letter” written in her own handwriting on it. This story has always captured my imagination as a very adoring gesture taken by this imposing historical figure.

leicester letter 001

His Last Letter.  For a modern transcription see below*.

In the early summer of 2003, I came home from work to find a present waiting for me from my husband. When I opened it, imagine my surprise when I found Susan Doran’s Elizabeth: The Exhibition at the National Maritime Museum--the catalog to the Greenwich Exhibition celebrating the 400th anniversary of the death of Queen Elizabeth I. Along with the catalog were entry tickets for August 8th and plane and hotel reservations.  I was going!  The catalog was read thoroughly beforehand with meticulous notes taken on which items would be “Want to See” and “Must See”.  Lot #70, Leicester’s last letter written to Elizabeth, was a “Must See” and became one of the top artifacts that I said I would die if I didn’t see.  What a way to set myself up.

We arrived early at the National Maritime Museum.  I was so excited.  We were some of the first in the doors that morning and sat front and center to watch the introductory video narrated by Guest Curator, David Starkey then I was ready to view the artifacts.

Armed with my list of exhibits to see (see below for an abbreviated chart of artifacts), I came upon Lot #70 and the letter wasn’t there!  There was #69 and #71 immediately next to it.  No #70.  I kept looking expecting it to miraculously materialize.  Nothing.  My husband looked: he called a docent over and they looked together.  The young man expressed great concern and radioed his supervisor who came to spend over 15 minutes looking for it.  Neither one of them could come up with a reason for its absence.  Still mystified, I finished the rest of the exhibit, went back to admire some particular items, wrote my notes and had to leave despite not seeing “His Last Letter.”

robertdudley

Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester 

The rest of my surprise trip to Great Britain was a thrill (My visit to the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula in the Tower of London is for another blog entry).  Upon my return home to the USA, I was determined to discover what had happened to Lot #70.  Leicester’s last letter had become almost as important to me as it had to Elizabeth I.  I researched as much as I could and came up empty handed until my husband and I attended Dr. David Starkey’s lecture at the Newberry Library in Chicago, IL on November 22, 2003.

While standing in line to have books autographed (I took Elizabeth: The Exhibition at the National Maritime Museum and my husband had Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII), I resolved to ask him about the letter.  Dr. Starkey was wonderful to take the time to answer my questions (with a queue trailing behind me) and expressed surprise that I did not see the letter. He assured me that it should have been there.

books                   six

My next step, e-mailing the National Maritime Museum, which I did on November 24, 2003, asking if the lot had been removed for some reason.

The reply I received on November 26, 2003 is as follows.  [Having eliminated the name of the respondent for privacy.]

             Dear Jodi,

             Dudley’s last letter was on display in the exhibition but unfortunately, the  
 National Archives would only loan it to us for 3 months or so. By the time you 
 visited, it was replaced with another letter from Dudley to Elizabeth.>

 An image of the letter is available to view on our website. [The link is not active  
now in 2013.] http://www.nmm.ac.uk/site/request/setTemplate:singlecontent/
contentTypeA/conWebDoc.contentld/6088/viewPage

Mystery solved.  It still does not end my disappointment of not seeing the actual letter but ten years later and I am close to being over it.  Happily, I have a framed poster of the fantastic Exhibition in my den as a reminder.

poster2

National Maritime Museum Exhibition on Queen Elizabeth I

Attended August 8, 2003

Lot

*Must See

Subject

Form

Comments

*7 Elizabeth Locket ring Has picture of her mom.
*26 Elizabeth & Mary Letter Hard to read as faded at the top of the paper.  Elizabeth wrote to Mary requesting an audience during the Wyatt Rebellion interrogation—diagonals across the bottom so no one could add anything.
*70 Elizabeth & Dudley Letter Was not there—his last letter to her with her writing on it identifying it as his last letter.
*192 Elizabeth Portrait Three Goddess.
*193 Elizabeth Portrait Pelican—from Walker Art Gallery.
*196 Elizabeth Portrait Peace
4 Anne Boleyn Pendant Given to her by Henry VIII.
5 Anne Boleyn Medal Has her motto on it.
12 Elizabeth, Katherine Parr, Henry VIII Book Elizabeth made for Henry of Katherine’s writings.
17 Elizabeth & Katherine Parr Letter Elizabeth forgot the word ‘them’ in the two letters on display. Letters she wrote to her little brother Edward were also interesting to see.
29 Elizabeth Portrait Coronation (Enjoyed the one of her at about age 14 also.)
69 Elizabeth & Dudley Letter He wrote to her as her ‘eyes’ signature was Ȱ Ȱ.  (Well, close to that.)
118 Elizabeth Inventory Great Wardrobe inventory of 1600 with separate exhibits of a pair of gloves and even her saddle.
264/265 Elizabeth Drawings Funeral procession.  (These drawings appear to be seen infrequently prior to this exhibit.)

 Newberry Library Elizabeth I Exhibit—Attnded November 22, 2003

Subject

Comments

Quentin Massey’s “Sieve” Portrait From 1580-83, after the one in Sienna, Italy.
Copy book by Roger Ascham (her tutor) Book on the education of children.
Elizabeth letter to Seymour Written February 21, 1549.
Evangelical Shepherd 1533 Gift to Anne Boleyn from Francis I with the introduction by a French poet.
Small portrait of Elizabeth She is in black and has a watch noticeably –from 1564-1567.
Elizabeth’s letter to Catherine de Medici The letter offers condolences over d’Alencon’s death in 1584—it was in French and in her  handwriting.
Answer to the Lords Petition that she marry It had her scribbles etc.  It was delivered in 1563 to Parliament by Nicholas Bacon with her seated nearby.
Speech of 1567 Elizabeth gave the speech herself to Parliament on the topic of her marrying –calling it “lip labored orations.”
Copy of Stubbs pamphlet It protested her marriage to d’Alencon– of which cost him his right hand.
Copy of Knox’s book, Blast on Female Rulers. It was a colonial copy from 1766 printed in Philadelphia.
Elizabeth speech to Parliament Topic concerned Mary, Queen of Scots on November 12, 1586.
Letter Elizabeth wrote to James Written in January 1593 offering advice.
Letter to Elizabeth from James The letter was written after Mary, Queen of Scots execution and dated March 1587.  He protests the action but would say—gently.
Mary’s execution drawing Similar to the one seen in Greenwich Exhibition.
Painting of Henry VIII, Edward VI and Elizabeth  from 1597 Had never seen this painting before although it is from the Art Institute of Chicago.57197_764549
Essex letter to Elizabeth from November 1597 Essex pleading for her forgiveness in his own arrogant way.
Version of Tilbury speech August 9, 1588 Written by an eyewitness.
Scroll of funeral procession, from British Library Forty feet long by College of Heralds.  Had listed Walter Raleigh as Capitan of the Guard.
William Camden Annals of 1625 Definitive source of information on Elizabeth.

Afterward:

In October of 2012 inquires were made as how Liecester’s letter came to the ownership of the National Archives.  My first e-mail was mistakenly taken as a request for a copy (for those of you who are interested, here is the web address where it can be purchased: https:www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/recordcopying/estimateoptions.aspx).  A second e-mail fielded this reply:

Dear Jodi,

Thank you for your further email, and I am sorry if my colleague did not fully answer your enquiry. While it is often very difficult to check the provenance of a single document, more generally the National Archives holds the archive of the crown and central government, and as such many personal documents from the reigning monarch ended up amongst more formal state documents, known collectively as State Papers. Some have ended up elsewhere, as royal officials often treated official papers as personal property, but royal letters can be found for all the Tudor monarchs in our collections. There is some background research guidance on this in:http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/research-guides/state-papers-1547-1649.htm. Elizabeth’s letter is likely to have been in custody of royal officials since her death.

 Yours sincerely,
 Dr. #####  ######
Medieval and Early Modern Team
Advice and Records Knowledge (ARK)
The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU
http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

It must be surmised that the letter was treated as a “State Paper” and handled as such throughout.  I am just thankful that it is still in existence and the story of Elizabeth I treasuring it for the 15 years until her own death is preserved as well.

*“I most humbly beseech your Majesty to pardon your poor old servant to be thus bold in sending to know how my gracious lady doth, and what ease of her late pains she finds, being the chiefest thing in this world I do pray for, for her to have good health and long life. For my own poor case, I continue still your medicine and find that (it) amends much better than with any other thing that hath been given me. Thus hoping to find perfect cure at the bath, with the continuance of my wonted prayer for your Majesty’s most happy preservation, I humbly kiss your foot. From your old lodging at Rycote, this Thursday morning, ready to take on my Journey, by your Majesty’s most faithful and obedient servant,

R. Leicester

Even as I had writ thus much, I received Your Majesty’s token by Young Tracey.”

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.”

coinrosaspina2
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.

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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.

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The (in)famous Hans Holbein Painting, 1539

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Miniature attributed to Hans Holbein, 1539

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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).

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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).

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Rare document with the signature “Anna the Queen”

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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.

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Gate at Richmond Palace   

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Hever Castle

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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.”

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

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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.

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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.

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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.