10 September 1533 – Elizabeth I is baptised


On this day in history, 10th September 1533, the three-day-old daughter of King Henry VIII and his second wife, was baptised in a lavish ceremony at the Church of Observant Friars in Greenwich. She was baptised “Elizabeth” and would grow up to be Queen Elizabeth I.

Her godparents were Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Centerbury; Agnes Howard (nee Tylney), Dowager Duchess of Norfolk; Margaret Grey (nee Wotton), Marchioness of Dorset; and Gertrude Courtenay, Marchioness of Exeter.

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5 thoughts on “10 September 1533 – Elizabeth I is baptised”
  1. A good program to watch is “Britain’s Tudor Treasure: A Night at Hampton Court”. This is a reenactment of Edward VI christening so is probably a little more elaborate than Elizabeth’s but gives a good idea of a Tudor royal christening. The reenactment is based on a very detailed drawing made I believe fairly close to the event. This program is easily found on YouTube.

  2. Agnes Tylney was Annes step grandmother I believe and Thomas Cranmer was her firm friend and champion so it’s only right those two were chosen, was Gertrude Courtenay also a friend of hers? I haven’t seen her name come up before, it was a lovely ceremony befitting of a princess, however Edwards christening was very very lavish as he was Henrys heir a prince of England, although at the time Elizabeth was Henrys legitimate heir, I have seen that programme about Edwards christening and it was beautiful.

    1. Hi Christine, I believe Gertrude didn’t like Anne Boleyn as she was close to Queen Katherine but did her duty so as not to upset Henry. These people represented the powerful rather than close friends. As cousins of the King and also connections to Anne’s maternal family, who also happened to be the first Duke of the land, Norfolk, the most important female relatives have been chosen. Gertrude was still writing to Catherine and was in trouble a few times over the next few years. At Edward’s the male relationship was represented, so Norfolk and Exeter themselves were involved. Suffolk and his Duchess were also represented at Edwards, with Princess Mary as the Godmother. I think the number and sex depended on the status and sex of the child as well. It was all very regal and it must have really looked beautiful. I am certain they all felt honour, whether they wanted to go or not as it is a mark of favour. It’s only men of real grit and conscience and maybe a lack of common sense who would make an excuse not to attend such a public and important ceremony. Thomas More, remember said no to the coronation of Queen Anne. The people here obviously have more sense of their own preservation. If you wanted to keep your house great, you turned up or sent an important representative and an expensive gift and you smiled and had a good time with the party afterwards.

      1. Yes that makes sense you wouldn’t want to upset King Henry it was a great honour to even if you did not like the child’s parents very much, self preservation was all important at the court of the King, as you say Sir Thomas More, he would not attend Annes coronation or sign the oath of supremacy some thought him a fool and others admired him, at the end of the day he was incredibly brave.

  3. I was just about to remark on the reenactment at Hampton Court which Michael describes above. Your original source described the enactment of the Baptism of Prince Edward at the 500 Anniversary of the palace, exactly. To see such a ceremony come alive is wonderful. The programme is in the BBC online i player and probably on YouTube and is well worth an hour of one’s time. What particularly struck me was your description of the long train and canopy as the baby and real Prince Edward in the show were wrapped in a 40 foot long robe and train, being carried by his Godmother. The vivid ceremony with candles for the Baptism, lit afterwards, the high Lords and Ladies, carrying towels and all being watched from a distance by on that occasion, Henry and Jane and this time Anne and Henry. These things must have been laid down and followed exactly from Royal baby to Royal baby. The baby would also have been stripped and fully emerged in the water, warmed for the occasion and then dried and withdrawn to be rerobed. His or Her Highness probably went for a nap as the guests drank sweet wine and goodies afterwards.

    The guest list and the Godparents almost read like a pragmatic whose who, biting clenched teeth and holding their tongue from the old houses. The Marchioness of Exeter was the close friend of Queen Katherine and second wife of Henry Courtney, the King’s cousin, so she wasn’t too pleased but did her job anyway as she dare not displease Henry who had already begun to remove anyone who spoke up for his ex wife. The old Duchess of Norfolk hated Anne Boleyn, but she too couldn’t pass up this honour. Anne, watching from a great bed behind a screen must have had one big secret smerk on her face. Apart from Thomas Cranmer, the baby’s Godfather, most other people present had not promoted Anne’s cause or were more for Katherine. To have them all here playing homage and honour to Princess Elizabeth, who in theory was now heir to the throne and by extension, Anne Boleyn, must have made her feel triumphant.

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