Path to St. Peter ad Vincula Part VII – E

Path to St. Peter ad Vincula Part VII – E

Although as Queen, Anne expected strict moral behavior from her women and was well known for performing charitable works — even making garments for the poor herself, she could never overcome the reputation of a calculating flirt.

Anne played the game.  She became the “finished coquette, playing fast and loose, hot and cold, as Henry appeared more or less urgent and enamored.”  She also encouraged the addresses of Wyatt and “inflamed Henry’s passions to the height of jealous fury” (Herbert, Henry 340).  Anne was indeed playing with fire as most of her contemporaries would not have appreciated nor accepted the idea of a young, unmarried girl flirting with married men.  She was tarnishing her reputation to such a degree that in 1536 it was easy for most people to accept her guilty of the licentious behavior she was accused of committing.  Many never questioned it because she had spent her formative years in France and everyone knew what had happened there. When she was “sent to France; where also she behav’d her self so licentiously, that she was vulgarly call’d the Hackney of England, till being adopted to that Kings Familiarity, she was termed his mule” (Herbert, Edward 286-287).

anneboleyn
Anne Boleyn

Upon her return from France, Lord Percy expressed an interest in Anne “but Misstris Bolen, whether she were ignorant, as yet, how much the King loved her, or howsoever had rather be that Lords Wife, than a Kings Misstris, took very ill of the Cardinal this his unreasonable Interruption of her Marriage” (Herbert, Edward 286).  Therefore, Anne was all set to marry Henry Percy but for the intervention of Cardinal Wolsey whom she never did forget nor forgive.

Why would she not have preferred to be the wife of Lord Percy or any other gentlemen rather than the King’s mistress? This blogger must concede that from the time period in which she lived, Anne relinquishing her honor to Henry before their marriage would have been viewed as wanton. Even her Protestant supporters would have been shocked by her behavior.  We can surmise that Anne did not spend six years balancing the King’s passion for her with her chastity to casually surrender one of her most valuable assets.  She has been defended that “up to this time, Anne’s conduct was irreproachable, and it is unmanly, as well as unjust, to attribute baseness, where no baseness is shown” (Herbert, Henry 338). Both she and Henry had to have been pretty certain that his divorce from Katherine was imminent before they committed to a physical relationship.  This action though would taint her image and encourage gossip.

lord percy
Henry Percy, 6th Earl of Northumberland

Carlo Capello, the Venetian Ambassador to England, wrote to his superiors a description of Anne Boleyn in late October of 1532, close to the time Henry and Anne’s relationship changed.  “Madam Anne is not one of the handsomest women in the world; she is of middling stature, swarthy complexion, long neck, wide mouth, bosom not much raised, and in fact has nothing but the English King’s great appetite, and her eyes, which are black and beautiful” (Brown IV 824).  Lancelot de Carle, later the Bishop of Riez, said Anne’s eyes were her most attractive feature “always most attractive which she knew well now to use with effect.  Sometimes leaving them at rest and at others, sending a message to carry the secret witness of the heart.  And, truth to tell, such was their power that many surrendered to their obedience” (Riehl 24).  Modern language would refer to her as having star-power or charisma  which was unsettling to people and affected her reputation. Even one of her greatest distracters acknowledged that she was “amusing in her ways” (Sander 25). Nothing less would have kept a man like Henry enthralled and enamored with only her eyes to credit for it.

Anne certainly knew how to make the most of herself.  “She was the model and the mirror of those who were at court, for she was always well dressed, and every day made some change in the fashion of her garments” (Sander 25).  Anne played “well on the lute, and was a good dancer” (Sander 25). Yet, were these talents enough?  Harpsfield questioned how Henry could put aside the virtuous Katharine “for such an incestuous woman, being in all other qualities beside so far inferior to her, as she was in very chastity itself” (Harpsfield 255).  Once again, we are back to the issue of Anne’s reputation.  When the charges against Anne were brought forward, many courtiers who had responded with ‘obedience’ to the pull of her personality needed to justify their actions.  Thus, witchcraft, dishonesty and duplicity were brought forward as rationales.

Anne Boleyn Bendor
Recently confirmed portrait of Anne Boleyn, Royal Collection Archives
http://www.arthistorynews.com/articles/894_Anne_Boleyn_regains_her_head

People felt the need even to justify their religious views. Those who did not support the Reformation said “it now appeared how bad that cause was which was supported by such a patron.  But it was answered, that her faults could not reflect on those who, being ignorant of them,” had supported her. (Burnet 115).  People who were less evangelical raised their “hopes of a reaction built on the fall of those ‘apostles of the new sect,’ Anne Boleyn and her relatives…” but those hopes, “were promptly and roughly destroyed” (Pollard 349).

Understanding the religious differences between Anne’s more evangelical leanings and others of the time (be it moderate Protestants and Roman Catholics) one should realize that she was “her Religion, there is no probability that it should (at first) be other than what was commonly profest” (Herbert, Edward 287).  Besides, her views were popular with many in power at the time as she promoted those clergy who shared her ideas.  It is apparent from “original Letters of hers, that she was a special Favourer of the Clergy of that time, and a preferrer of the worthiest sort of them of Ecclesiastical Livings, during her chief times of Favour with the King” (Herbert, Edward 287).

Those of the old faith were much more vocal against Anne Boleyn, “damned as the cause of all the trouble” (Haigh 141). Anne was blamed for the deaths of Thomas More and Bishop Fisher.  Nevertheless she did not leave off her evil conversation, which at length brought her to shame” (Gairdner X 1036).

thomas morejohn fisher
            Sir Thomas More                         John Fisher

Her religious views were not of the extreme variety at the time (although more so than Henry’s).  While she would have created enemies from those who staunchly followed the ‘old faith,’ she did not initially upset people on religious grounds. Her abrasive personality, her willfulness, and her flirtatiousness were things that created negative responses from people.

We see Anne’s elevation was opposed for her religious views and mostly for her lack of virtue as seen in the eyes of the people of the 16th century.  An interesting emphasis placed on the international element comes from Henry William Herbert.  He asserts that Cardinal Wolsey opposed Anne not because of her religious views nor because of her personally; he opposed her elevation because she was not of foreign royal blood.  Her acquisition of the throne would “alienate and affront foreign Princes, breed intestine strifes, and give undue preponderance in the state, to private families” (Herbert, Henry 340). This interpretation proves interesting.  Anne’s preference for France and Cromwell’s (remember Cromwell was Wolsey’s protégé) for the Imperial faction has been previously discussed as an element in Anne’s downfall in the blog entry Path to St. Peter ad Vincula: Part IV.   Here is another case of the interplay between national, even personal policy and foreign policy.  The King was a being of State.  What he did or did not do effected diplomacy—both foreign and domestic.  To marry a subject created discord amongst the English themselves and frustration with foreign nations as the perceived thwart to their ambitions.  In Henry VIII’s immediate predecessors we have examples of what Wolsey feared—strife within the English aristocracy and disgruntled foreign courts.  Edward IV’s wife, Elizabeth Woodville, yes; Richard III’s wife, Anne Neville, yes; and Henry VII’s wife, Elizabeth of York, yes—although the marriage was contracted as a way to end the factional warfare.

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

 

Advertisements

Dieu et mon Droit

Dieu et mon Droit

Although Henry (Earl of Richmond and later Henry VII) was born to a lawfully married couple, his ancestry implied illegitimacy.  Whereas, Queen Elizabeth I had to contend with the doubts over the legality of the marriage between her parents, and the Parliamentary action of July 1536 declaring her illegitimate.  Both Henry VII and Elizabeth I realized the importance of confirming their claim to the throne, and how they handled this issue is interesting.

Henry was named for his half-uncle King Henry VI.  His grandmother, Katherine of Valois, was married to King Henry V of England and gave birth to the future Henry VI.  As a widow Katherine married Owen Tudor.  Some people at that time and even now believe there was no marriage ceremony.  In all probability they wed in secret, or perhaps a wedding away from Court would not have been as well documented which could add to people’s suspicions.  Their eldest surviving son was Edmund, first Earl of Richmond.  Edmund went on to marry Margaret Beaufort who herself descended from questionable legitimacy.

Margaret’s great-grandmother, Katherine Swynford, was the mistress of John of Gaunt (son of King Edward III and father of Henry VI).  After John was widowed, he married Katherine and received a Papal Bull declaring their children legitimate.  Shortly after, in February of 1397, Richard II legitimized his cousins. The Letters Patent were read in Parliament, ratified and confirmed, making the legitimization an Act of Parliament.  Regardless, the taint of illegitimacy lingered. Thus, in 1407 John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, the eldest child of John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford asked his half-brother, King Henry IV, for an exemplification of the original Letters Patent. This is where things get tricky.

Henry IV must have felt some threat from the Beauforts to his throne for he inserted the phrase ‘excepta dignitate regali’ which meant his half-siblings were not eligible for the royal dignity—they could not inherit the throne.  Although people could argue endlessly as to whether children born of parents who were married to other spouses were legitimate, the legal fact remains.  Henry IV could not on his own authority alter the Letters Patent issued in a previous reign which had become law through the ratification of Parliament.  This has been discussed in much greater detail by Michael Jones and Malcolm Underwood in The King’s Mother and by Samuel Bentley in the Excerpta Historica which includes a transcript of the Letters Patent.

So where does this place Henry when he came to the throne in 1485?  Henry used the 1397 Act to cement his royal lineage even though, interestingly enough, he did not base his claim to the throne on this act.  He probably realized its precariousness and he intentionally kept his genealogy vague (Jones, Penn).  Henry obviously ignored the 1407 statute that said the Beauforts would be excluded from the throne (Griffiths 183). Therefore, Henry VII could claim the throne as the heir of the House of Lancaster through the lineage of John of Gaunt. So it is the Beaufort line on the female side that gave Henry the greatest claim to the throne. His mother, a firm supporter in his right of inheritance, made popular the story recounted by Vergil of the prophecy made by Henry VI upon meeting the young Henry, Earl of Richmond:

Whan the king saw the chylde, beholding within himself without
speache a prety space the haultie disposition therof, he ys
reportyd to H. 6 pro have sayd to the noble men ther present.
This trewly, this is he unto whom both we and our adversaryes
must yeald and geave of H. 7. over the domynion.  Thus the holy
man shewyd yt woold coome to passe that Henry showld in time enjoy
the kingdom. (Vergil 135)

Years into his reign, Henry VII still worried that, although he was the acknowledged victor at Bosworth and the Pope had confirmed his right to the crown, he still felt the need to ensure his rule to the point of naming his first son Arthur to connect himself to the king of legend (Perry). It is obvious there were no Yorkist names for his sons—no Edward, no George, no Richard.  He also used Lancastrian names for his daughters. Carrying this further, Henry reinforced his family’s royal connections and lineage using symbolism including the Tudor rose and the Beaufort portcullis.

The Tudor Rose emerged upon the marriage of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York.  The smaller, white rose of York was surrounded by the large, red rose of Lancaster to become the emblem of the union.  The Tudor Rose was used expansively throughout the successive reigns in various formats making it perhaps the most recognizable symbol of the Tudors.  Less dramatic but in use longer was the portcullis of the Beaufort badge.  Beaufort Castle in Champagne, France, was where John of Gaunt had a stronghold.  The family embedded the portcullis into the design of the badge for the Somerset dukedom.  This was used extensively from the time of Henry VII from the badge of the London Borough of Richmond to the architecture in the King’s Chapel at Cambridge.  Its importance is seen in its longevity for in the modern era it was used on the backside of the penny until 2008.

Corfe Castle, a Beaufort stronghold, and its local parish church was used by Henry to show the legitimacy of the Beaufort line. On the left side of the door was the coats-of-arms with the shield on its side symbolizing an illegitimate line while on the right it was upright (Jones 71-72).

portcullis rose

Photographs from the online version of A Short Account of King’s College Chapel by W. P. Littlechild.

While Henry stressed his maternal line, he did identify with his paternal Welsh side (Norton 44).  This was the exact opposite position of his granddaughter, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth maintained the silence that surrounded her mother as she knew opening up that line of thinking would question her claim to the throne. Following that same reasoning, at the urging of her councilors notably Nicholas Bacon, Elizabeth did not pass any legislation legitimizing herself, as Henry VIII’s will gave her the right to succession  (Ridley 85).  By invoking her right to succeed via Henry’s will, she tactically ignored the Act of Succession of July 1536 in which Henry declared her illegitimate and excluded her from any inheritance.  The page from The Statutes at Large of Henry VIII’s reign is below as it contains the annulment of his marriage to Anne Boleyn as well (Pickering 422).

                  Statute E1     

Both Mary and Elizabeth spent many years in the limbo world of being an illegitimate child of a king.  Illegitimate royal children held positions at Court but could not inherit the throne nor provide attractive prospects for foreign marriages. Several years into her reign when members of Parliament approached her urging her to marry and name her successor, Elizabeth was not welcoming.  She remembered that when her sister Mary was fighting for her right to succeed after Edward VI had altered the succession some of these very men declared “my sister and I were bastards” (Marcus 97).  It is easy to conclude that the question of her legitimacy and others’ responses to it was never far from her mind. Although her line in succession was reinstated in June 1543 by act of Parliament (and, as mentioned above, in December of 1546 by Henry’s will), Elizabeth was not declared legitimate. This issue was pressed by Mary as Queen when, in 1553, her Parliament repealed the divorce between Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon thus reinforcing Elizabeth’s illegitimacy (Somerset 35).

Thus it was in Elizabeth’s interest to face the world in as firm a position as possible when she became queen. It was well-known she would often reference her father when she spoke, perhaps to instill her claim to the throne and famously referred to herself as the ‘lion’s cub’.  Those who knew her must have recognized this as we see attempts made in pageants and writings to promote her legitimate status.

At her coronation pageant at Gracechurch Street, her ancestors were depicted as the “valiant and noble prince King Henry the eighth” and “the right worthy Lady Queen Anne…”  The entire quote is recreated below as it stresses that Anne was the wife of Henry:

Out of which two roses sprang, two branches gathered into one,
which were directed upward to the second stage or degree wherein
was placed one representing the valiant and noble prince King
Henry the eighth, which sprang out of the former stock, crowned
with a crown imperial, and by him sat one representing the right
worthy Lady Queen Anne, wife to the said King Henry the eighth and
mother to our most sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth that now is,
both appareled with scepters and diadems and other furniture due
to the estate of a king and queen … (Warkentin 78).

One avenue taken to promote her legitimacy was to invoke her descent from the legendary King Arthur.  A pageant at Kenilworth in 1575 declared the lake was being kept until a true heir of Arthur came and it would be handed over.  Although it was meant in all seriousness, Elizabeth could not help but tease when she exclaimed that she thought the lake had always been hers (or was it a reminder to Leicester that she was the one of royal blood?).  An account of this pageant written by John Nichols but gleaned from the contemporary source, George Gascoigne’s Princely Pleasures at Kenelwoorth Castle, is shared below:

…first of the auncientee of the Castl, whoo had been ownerz
of the same e’en till this day, most allweyz in the hands of
the Earls of Leyceter ; hoow shee had kept this Lake sins King
Arthur’z dayz ; and now understanding of her Highness hither
cumming, thought it both office and duetie, in humble wize to
discover her and her estate ; oflfering up the same her Lake
and poour therein, with promise of repayre unto the Coourt. It
pleazed her Highness too thank this Lady, and too add withall,
we had thought indeed the Lake had been oours, and doo you call
it yourz noow ? Well, we will herein common more with yoo
hereafter (Nichols 431).

In Spencer’s Faerie Queene, the link to King Arthur was wrapped in allegory throughout.  In Book II, Canto X titled “A chronicle of Briton Kings, from Brute to Vthers rayne.  And rolles of Elfin Emperours, till time of Gloriane”, we see Spencer’s attempt to link the historical Arthur to Elizabeth as the stanzas relate to the book, History of the Kings of Britain by Geoffrey of Monmouth:

Who now shall giue vnto me words and sound,
Equall vnto this haughtie enterprise?
Or who shall lend me wings, with which from ground
Lowly verse may loftily arise,
And lift it selfe vnto the highest skies?
More ample spirit, then hitherto was wount,
Here needes me, whiles the famous auncestries
Of my most dreaded Soueraigne I recount,
By which all earthly Princes she doth farre surmount.

Ne vnder Sunne, that shines so wide and faire,
Whence all that liues, does borrow life and light,
Liues ought, that to her linage may compaire,
Which though from earth it be deriued right,
Yet doth it selfe stretch forth to heauens hight,
And all the world with wonder ouerspred;
A labour huge, exceeding farre my might:
How shall fraile pen, with feare disparaged,
Conceiue such soueraine glory, and great bountihed?

Argument worthy of Moeonian quill,
Or rather worthy of great Phoebus rote,
Whereon the ruines of great Ossa hill,
And triumphes of Phlegræan Ioue he wrote,
That all the Gods admird his loftie note.
But if some relish of that heauenly lay
His learned daughters would to me report,
To decke my song withall, I would assay,
Thy name, ô soueraine Queene, to blazon farre away.

Thy name soueraine Queene, thy realme and race,
From this renowmed Prince deriued arre,
Who mightily vpheld that royall mace,
Which now thou bear’st, to thee descended farre
From mightie kings and conquerours in warre,
Thy fathers and great Grandfathers of old,
Whose noble deedes aboue the Northerne starre
Immortall fame for euer hath enrold;
As in that old mans booke they were in order told.

Carolly Erickson mentioned that Elizabeth had a large genealogy of her personal lineage which she kept.  There was reference to it in Robert Cecil’s papers as seen below.  Now this does not necessarily mean it was important to her, but it is noteworthy that it was kept and recorded.                          

                     salsbury calendar   

Thanks to Vicki Perry, Head of Archives and Historic Collections Library and Archives at Hatfield House, who responded to an inquiry concerning the genealogical scroll.  She informed me that the scroll itself is on view at Hatfield House (only a small portion is shown at a time) and a digitized copy is at the British Library–reference number Cecil Papers 357.

Although much of this evidence is anecdotal, there are enough instances to realize that both Henry VII and Elizabeth I were concerned with projecting an image of their lineage, ancestral connections and right to the throne.

Works Cited

Bentley, Samuel, ed. “Issue of Katherine de Roelt, Wife of Sir Hugh Swynford, and Afterwards of John of Gaunt Duke of Lancaster.  Letters Patent of  King Henry the Fourth Certifying the Legitimacy of Sir Thomas Svvynford;with Notices of the Swynford Family.” Excerpta Historica: Or, Illustrations of English History. London: Samuel Bentley, 1831. 152-54. Web. 15 Nov. 2012.

Cecil, Sir Robert, Marquess of Salisbury. “Elizabeth.” Calendar of the Manuscripts of the Most Honourable, the Marquess of Salisbury Preserved at Hatfield House, Hertfordshire. Vol. 11. London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1906. 147+. Great Britain, Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts. Web. 13 Nov. 2012.

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

Griffiths, Ralph A. and Roger S. Thomas.  The Making of the Tudor Dynasty.  New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1985. Print.

Jones, Michael K., and Malcolm G. Underwood. The King’s Mother: Lady Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby. Cambridge, England: Cambridge UP, 1992. Print.

Littlechild, Walter Poole, ed. A Short Account of King’s College Chapel. 2nd ed. Cambridge: W. HEFFER & SONS, 1921. Project Gutenberg, 2 Aug. 2008. Web. 15 Nov. 2012.

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

Nichols, John. The Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth. Among Which Are Interspersed Other Solemnities, Public Expenditures, and Remarkable Events during the Reign of That Illustrious Princess. London: Printed by and for J. Nichols, 1823. Web.  29 Oct. 2012.

Norton, Elizabeth.  Margaret Beaufort: Mother of the Tudor Dynasty.  Stroud: Amberley, 2010. Print.

Penn, Thomas.  Winter King; the Dawn of Tudor England.  New York: Penguin Books, 2012. Print.

Perry, Maria.  The Word of a Prince: A Life of Elizabeth from Contemporary Documents. Woodbridge, Suffolk: The Boydell Press, 1990.  Print.

Pickering, Danby, Esq. “Statues Made at Westminster, Year 28 of Henry VIII, Year 1536.” Statue At Large: From the Fifth Year of King Richard III to the 31st Year of King Henry VIII. Vol. 4. London: Gray’s Inn, 1763. 421-22. Google Books. Web. 09 Nov. 2012.

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.

Spenser, Edmund, and Alexander Balloch Grosart. The Complete Works in Verse and Prose of Edmund Spenser. [Manchester]: Printed for the Spenser Society, 1882. Web. 29 Oct. 2012.

Vergil, Polydore.  Full Text of “Three Books of Polydore Vergil’s English History, Comprising the Reigns of Henry VI., Edward IV., and Richard III. from an Early Translation, Preserved among the Mss. of the Old Royal Library in the British Museum” Internet Archive, n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2012.

Warkentin, Germain, ed. “The Queen’s Majesty’s Passage & Related         Documents.” Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2012.