11 April 1533 – Anne Boleyn is Accorded Royal Honours and Cranmer works on the Annulment

Anne Boleyn NPGOn 11th April 1533 Henry VIII informed his Council that Anne was his rightful wife and Queen and that she should be accorded with royal honours.1

On the same day Thomas Cranmer, the newly consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote to the King “Beseeching the King very humbly to allow him to determine his great cause of matrimony, as belongs to the Archbishop’s spiritual office, as much bruit exists among the common people on the subject”.2 The King replied the following day:

“Received on the 12th April his letters dated Lambeth, 11th April desiring leave to determine his great cause of matrimony. Cannot be displeased with Cranmer’s zeal for justice and for the quieting of the kingdom ; and although Henry is his King, and recognises no superior on earth, yet as Cranmer is the principal minister “of our spiritual jurisdiction,” and is so in the fear of God, cannot refuse his request. Gives him licence accordingly by these letters under the sign manual, sealed with the King’s seal.”3

This gave Cranmer the official permission he needed to open a special trial into the annulment proceedings, which he did at Dunstable Priory, Bedfordshire. On 23rd May 1533, the court declared Henry’s marriage to Catherine “to be against the law of God” and dissolved it.4 Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn was declared valid on 28th May 1533, just in time for Anne’s coronation celebrations, which began the next day.

11th April 1533, the date when Anne Boleyn was officially recognised as Queen, is recorded in the amazing painting by Hans Holbein the Younger, The Ambassadors, which portrays two ambassadors: Jean de Dinteville, maître d’hôtel to Francis I of France, and George de Selve, Bishop of Lavaur. Those who have analysed the painting have found the date marked on the celestial globe, the quadrant and the cylinder sundial. You can read more about this painting in the following articles:

Notes and Sources

  1. Ives, Eric (2004) The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, p234
  2. LP vi. 327
  3. Ibid., 332
  4. LP vi. 525, 529

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5 thoughts on “11 April 1533 – Anne Boleyn is Accorded Royal Honours and Cranmer works on the Annulment”
  1. What I find the most interesting about this particular date, is that three short years later, it was a countdown to Anne’s downfall and execution. I wonder how heavily that must have weighed upon her when she was in such terrible danger.

  2. The fact Henry had to order his council to acknowledge Anne as Queen and give her full honours says it all. He cannot take their loyalty and acknowledgement of his new wife as natural and given. Well, tough, because Queen she is and I won’t brook any dissent. Tomorrow Anne will be presented in public as Queen, she will be given every honour and courtesy and you lot will show every respect and deference and behave yourselves or else. Cranmer at the same time is following some form of protocol asking leave to begin his office and try the case of Henry’s marriage to Katherine and to validate his new marriage to Anne. Henry, of course gives gracious permission. And I need a bucket. The whole thing is a complete farse. Anne and Henry have already tied the knot, Anne is pregnant and nobody came to the court at Dunstable to give contrary so the annulment was granted. Anne attended Mass the next day in Public as Queen. Her confirmation of royal status came just before her coronation when Cranmer’s hearing declared her marriage good. It was all a given thing anyway, but you have to go through the motions.

  3. Kind of interesting none of this got done until Henry knew Anne was pregnant-after all, they were married in Jan 1533.

    1. I think part of the hold up was making and acceptance of Cranmer as Archbishop of Canterbury. As primate or the first bishop I believe he had to call the court, although we didn’t have to just wait for this. Cranmer had to be elected and installed as Archbishop, the nomination had still to go to Rome, especially via an old agreement, which Henry actually did, remarkably considering his steps to make himself head of the church were being packaged for a later Parliament. Finally, there is of course the formal business of arranging the hearings. There were probably other delays, but basically Henry was in my opinion lazy. He didn’t budge to bring things forward until Anne was pregnant, which she was before her wedding. Henry obviously wanted to be certain of this, but another obscure reason seems to have held him back. Believe it or not, he had made a final appeal to the Pope to expedite matters. When he went to visit Francis I in 1532, it wasn’t just to get the help of an ally, he asked Francis to speak to the Pope. Embassies were still in Rome. Francis in the end didn’t support his match formally to the Pope, probably because Henry lost patience and married Anne anyway. Henry now had no choice and with an Archbishop of Canterbury in place of his mind, Thomas Cranmer who had proposed a theological way forward, rather than a legal one, he could have his cake and eat it. Even today appointment of a new Archbishop is a drawn out process. He has to be named from a short list, has to be given approval by the prime minister, who then recommends the successful person to the Queen, who makes the appointment as Head of the Church of England. The candidate then goes through the normal installment and consecration process. The process can take a few weeks, even today. In those days a few months was probably normal. Although Archbishop Walsingham had died in 1532, a suitable candidate had not been found, plus Cranmer was only consecrated I believe in March 1533. It was all after Anne was known to be pregnant in February 1533, but really given the collective delays, it was probably as timely as Henry could do things. Henry had to do something to move everything forward; he had waited several years now anyway, but unfortunately he had to appoint a proper Church representative and didn’t have the legal framework to rush this process through. Red tape, hey.

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