18 April 1536 – Chapuys does Anne Boleyn “reverence”

Posted By on April 18, 2015

Eustace ChapuysOn 18th April 1536, just a month and a day before Anne Boleyn’s execution, Eustace Chapuys, the imperial ambassador was manoeuvred into a position which forced him to encounter Anne Boleyn and bow to her, recognising her as queen.

We know from Chapuys’ report to Charles V that he had refused the offer of visiting Anne and kissing her hand:

“Before the King went out to mass Cromwell came to me on his part to ask if I would not go and visit and kiss the Concubine, which would be doing a pleasure to this King; nevertheless, he left it to me. I told him that for a long time my will had been slave to that of the King, and that to serve him it was enough to command me; but that I thought, for several reasons, which I would tell the King another time, such a visit would not be advisable, and I begged Cromwell to excuse it, and dissuade the said visit in order not to spoil matters.”

However, the King was not happy with this response. Anne’s brother, George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, conducted the ambassador to mass and manoeuvred him behind the door through which Anne would enter. As Anne entered with the King, she turned, stopped and bowed to Chapuys. Chapuys had no choice but to bow in return:

“I was conducted to mass by lord Rochford, the concubine’s brother, and when the King came to the offering there was a great concourse of people partly to see how the concubine and I behaved to each other. She was courteous enough, for when I was behind the door by which she entered, she returned, merely to do me reverence as I did to her.”

Chapuys downplays the incident here, but in a later letter to Granvelle he writes that Henry VIII’s daughter, Mary, was unhappy with his actions:

“Although I would not kiss or speak to the Concubine, the Princess and other good persons have been somewhat jealous at the mutual reverences required by politeness which were done at the church.”

Notes and Sources

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Mary Boleyn Book Tour and Giveaway Day 3 – The Face of Mary Boleyn

Posted By on April 15, 2015

Mary BoleynI’m delighted to welcome Sarah Bryson to The Anne Boleyn Files on day 3 of her book tour for Mary Boleyn: In a Nutshell. Today, Sarah shares her thoughts on Mary Boleyn’s appearance.

To be in with a chance of winning a paperback copy of Sarah’s book on Mary Boleyn, all you need to do is leave a comment below saying what you imagine Mary Boleyn to look like. Leave your comment before midnight on 22 April. A winner will be picked at random and contacted shortly after – good luck!

Over to Sarah…

Mary Boleyn was the oldest daughter of Thomas Boleyn and Elizabeth Howard, and sister to Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII. Mary Boleyn was the older sister, being born in around 1500 at Blickling Hall, Norfolk. Sometime after this, Thomas Boleyn moved his family to Hever Castle and it was here that Mary spent her early years. Nowadays ‘Hever Castle, once the home of that great figure in Tudor history, Anne Boleyn, now has one of the best collections of Tudor portraits after The National Portrait Gallery’ (Starkey 2011). One of these magnificent portraits is said to be of Mary Boleyn.

Josephine Wilkinson, author of Mary Boleyn The True Story of Henry VIII’s Favourite Mistress doubts that the Hever Castle portrait is of Mary Boleyn and states that ‘tradition has it that Mary Boleyn was the most beautiful of the Boleyn sisters. Even she, however, did not conform to the Tudor ideal of feminine beauty, which preferred pale skin, blue eyes and blonde hair. One portrait of Mary, although it is of doubtful authenticity shows her to have a rounder and softer face than that of her sister. Her complexion is creamy, her eyes brown and, although her hair is hidden beneath her gabled hood, its colour is suggested by the shade of her eyebrows, which hint at a rich auburn or a chestnut brown.’ (Wilkinson p. 64).

The above image is the portrait from Hever Castle to which Wilkinson is referring. It is labelled as a portrait of Mary Boleyn painted after the Holbein style. Alison Weir, in her book Mary Boleyn The Mistress of Kings, also doubts the authenticity of this portrait as Mary Boleyn and proposes instead that it may be of Frances Brandon, daughter of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and his wife Mary Tudor, Dowager Queen of France.

As well as the Hever Castle portrait of Mary Boleyn I wanted to make a note of another portrait that has often been credited as being Anne Boleyn but when studied further may perhaps have more resemblance to Mary Boleyn than her more famous sister. This portrait was painted by Lucas Horenbout and will be described in more detail below.
Horenbout was a Flemish artist who studied his skill in painting under his father Gerard Horenbout. He moved to England sometime during the mid 1520’s and in September 1525 Horenbout is mentioned in Henry VIII’s royal accounts where he is referred to as a ‘pictor maker’. By 1531 he was being described as the King’s Painter and was very well paid for his paintings. Horenbout is best known for his intricate and beautifully detailed portrait miniatures.

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