11 October 1532 – An important trip for Anne Boleyn

On this day in history, 11th October 1532, Anne Boleyn, sweetheart of Henry VIII and a woman who’d just been made Marquess of Pembroke, set off on an important trip.

Anne Boleyn was accompanying the king, acting as his consort, on a trip to Calais to meet King Francis I of France. Henry VIII wanted to obtain the French king’s support for his relationship with Anne Boleyn and for the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon.

Find out more about this trip, what happened and what happened next, in my latest “on this day in Tudor history” video:

Other videos on this trip:

Also on this day in Tudor history, 11th October 1537, there was a solemn procession and prayers said for Jane Seymour, Henry VIII’s third wife, who was in labour with her first and only child, Edward. In last year’s video, I share contemporary accounts of the procession and Jane’s labour:

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6 thoughts on “11 October 1532 – An important trip for Anne Boleyn”
  1. The Swallow must have been a pretty speedy ship as their trip over was quite quick, certainly for the time and benign.

    A lavish and happy welcome for the triumphant couple.

  2. I will comment on poor Queen Jane Seymour’s long and arduous labour, those who are fans of Anne Boleyn do not have much sympathy for Henry’s third queen but any woman who has ever been in labour should have sympathy for this lady who suffered her ordeal for nearly two days, without pain relief and the advanced medical care we are so lucky to have these days, childbirth in the early days nearly always spelt death for the mother and sometimes the infant to, the lucky survived and when the expectant mother to be, if she be lowly born or a member of the highest echelons of society there were always a great deal of worry as to if she would survive the ordeal, royal babies were doubly precious and queens would have everyone on hand to see to her greatest comfort, the birthing chamber was hung with tapestries depicting scenes from the lives of the saints so as not to frighten the mother or child, no sunlight was allowed in though possibly one curtain would be drawn back to allow a small amount in, the room would also have gold plate and bowls and cups, a sign of the queens high statue and she would have relics of the saints and the holy mother to hold onto, Mother Nature did the rest and poor Jane endured a very long and difficult labour, the king grew concerned and sent his own physicians in who were not as experienced as the midwife, meanwhile urgent prayers were said for her throughout the court and the city, every mother would have felt for her even though many had sympathised with Anne Boleyn, it is debated as to wether the physicians caused her death through rough handling without proper sanitation, but she did eventually die after giving the king his longed for son, of puerperal fever, she experienced the brief glory of her son before succumbing to death and mingling with the joy of a new prince, the court went into a period of mourning, Henry V111 was particularly devastated but he had his son and heir.

    1. You are absolutely right, Christine, we should have more sympathy for Jane Seymour, especially during her exceptionally long and dangerous labour. The child just would not emerge and Jane was in agony and exhausted. The people had prayers and processions for her and Henry almost lost her during the birth. Jane didn’t suffer a ceasarian birth which was only preformed on the mother if she died in order to deliver a live baby. This was the first time men had entered the royal bedchamber and one theory from historians is that the midwives were deferring to the doctors, even though they had no experience of childbirth and this delayed any action which might have helped. Jane survived the difficult and long birth and apparently was well and cheerful and Edward was delivered to the delight and relief of his parents and the people who obviously had a party afterwards. However, sadly, although she was o.k to observe but not take part in the elaborate baptism of her son at Hampton Court, within days Jane developed complications and died of toxic fever. It is plausible that the after birth became trapped and infection followed. Jane didn’t die of negligence or as one commentator in an earlier post put it “the doctors rummaging around inside her with dirty hands” . On the contrary, the doctors would not be allowed to touch the Queen in any intimate way to intervene and her midwives chose not to or did not see any reason to. She was attended by the top royal doctor and he noted her condition. Jane apparently rallied but then declined very quickly. The sanitary conditions may also have been less than we would expect, although we have no evidence either way on this point. Needless to say a combination of complications, infection, lack of intervention and sixteenth century protocol combined to cause the loss of Jane Seymour, the lady who had been blessed with Henry’s son and heir.

      I have read comments in the past that it was some kind of karma that Jane died, because of Anne’s unjust execution which is ridiculous. Henry Viii was responsible for the death of Anne and would have gotten rid of her even if he didn’t marry Jane because in his eyes she had failed, she was a nuisance and he needed a new start. He was growing paranoid and believed the ridiculous charges because it was convenient. Women died in childbirth or from complications afterwards. The highest proportion of those ladies died during the Tudor period. Jane was actually lucky to live through such a long labour. Edward was lucky as well because the baby could have become distressed during a long labour and deprived of oxygen. This happened to the first wife of the future Tsar, Paul, son of Catherine the Great, Natalie, who died after three days of labour, because her child just wasn’t emerging. Eventually she did give birth with intervention, but she died immediately and her son was born dead, being over nine pounds in weight. Today this is possible, as is a safe ceasarian but in the 1760s, it caused complications. So even the survival of mother and son, especially after a difficult prolonged labour was miraculous in 1537,_let alone that Edward lived. Its very sad that his mother died and Henry would have honoured her above all women. Her memory was sacred. Henry would not have married anyone else and Edward would have been able to relate to people better with the guidance of his mother. I really agree with Christine, we should have more understanding of Jane and in fact all of the wives of Henry Viii and see them as being subject to his power, not making his decisions for him.

      1. Thank you Bq, Henry V111’s wives were merely his puppets they were no more powerful than a farmers wife, albeit they were much richer, Anne Boleyn was powerful as his mistress but the minute she became Henry’s wife she had to conform, this meant being suppliant and non complaining, and above all, fertile, something which did not tally well with her character and of course, she was not fortunate in her obstetric history, Jane and Katherine of Aragon and all the wives who followed after were merely the kings subjects and therefore had to do his bidding, Anne rebelled which had a lot to do with her downfall, it is as we both agree unfair of those fans of Anne to blame Jane for marrying the king soon after her death, it was always at the end of the day the kings decision, she had no choice but to comply, she maybe would have preferred to wait the acceptable time after the queens death which would have been about a year before being wed, she did not ruin Anne’s marriage it had already broken down as had Katherines years before, fans of Katherine decry Anne and whilst she was vindictive in her pursuit of queenship, she did not destroy Katherines marriage it was dead before the king ever set eyes on her, Katherine was going through the menopause and the king possibly had stopped sleeping with her, she had lost her last child a daughter and both she and Henry must have known then there would be no others, Henry V111 was looking around for a new younger fertile wife, he was in secret negotiations with a French wife with Wolsey when Anne appeared at court and history was made, the kings attraction to, long pursuit and eventual marriage to Anne Boleyn became the catalyst for his five turbulent marriages that followed after, at the end of the day although he was influenced a good deal by Anne, he was the one firmly in control with the ultimate power over life and death, her violent sad ending is testament to that.

  3. I think that Katherine of Aragon had a great deal of power and influence over Henry until he began to find his own way which was by about 1525 when Katherine was no longer able to give him children and even then she still had some control as late as 1529. With the withdrawal of her place at Court, however and separation from the King that powerful influence was lost. After 1531 we see the rapid decline in the power of the Queen aka Katherine of Aragon and Henry is firmly in control of the purse strings for example. The first thing is the separation of the Princess of Wales aka Mary from the Queen. Henry has been granted new power over the clergy and that weakened support for Katherine. In 1531 he is also made Head of the Church as far as the law of Christ allowed which gives him the title but none of the privileges and political rights. Katherine is told to leave and does. She wasn’t a prisoner at this point but you can see now she has to comply. I doubt Henry ever gave Katherine an order before. Now he does and as his wife and subject to obey him, she has to comply. Katherine now is the same as any other wife. You can see her lack of power in her defiance verbally but she can’t do anything else for the next four years. Henry when he showed his power he showed it. Anne would sadly find out she had no more power than Katherine when Henry had had enough of her.

  4. Anne and Henry had a very busy time out and about in Calais and France. They wined and dined the French King and a large company and Henry went off to the French side. Anne was left behind but she planned her grand dancing entrance. The nobles on both sides held a chapter of their knighthood orders and were received into the others by the Kings of the other countries. Very grand shows were put on, the feasting was great and rich cloth hung everywhere. Anne wasn’t present when King Francis arrived and two days later she came in dancing in exotic costumes with several other ladies in masks and took as her partner King Francis. The dance ended and the ladies took off their masks. Anne was charming and graceful and a lovely time was had. Francis was apparently very supportive and all left on a high.

    A few days later Henry and Anne were held up crossing to England by storms and consummated their marriage. The record of Edward Hall says they were married in secret in the Church in Dover on 14th November 1532. This would in Henry’s eyes have legitimised his forthcoming child before his marriage to her in January 1533 when she was obviously pregnant. No way was Elizabeth an eight month delivery. Anne was boasting in public of being pregnant in February. I don’t believe they had digital pregnancy tests which can predict pregnancy after two weeks. The doctor usually only confirmed it after the quickening but there were other ways. A urine test for example was reasonably good. Cravings and the lack of a monthly course or changes to the body gave some indications and Anne had told Henry she was with child which is why his plans were brought forward. Henry wanted to make certain that his child by Anne was legitimate. Nothing really stood in their way now in any case as Henry could move things on politically and religiously at home.

    The Seat of Canterbury was vacant and a new Archbishop was proposed by Thomas Cromwell and Henry met Thomas Cranmer who found a new way to annul the marriage. Katherine was moved away from her supporters and Anne was installed in her apartments. By April the new Archbishop was in place and Anne appeared in public as Queen. The Court at Dunstable met and declared the marriage to Katherine as null and void and that Anne was his true wife. Parliament was called to make new legislation to back this up and to finally confirm Henry as Supreme Head of the Church with no strings attached. Henry was granted more power than any King before him and he used it. A new treason act made it treason to refuse to accept the new marriage, his heirs by Anne and his new title and authority. Thomas More resigned as Chancellor and Thomas Audley a friend of Cromwell replaced him. John Fisher denounced the new legislation and was put in the Tower with More following him. Cromwell and others tried to persuade them otherwise but in the end they died as martyrs in 1535. It was a loss which was widely condemned and in the end Anne failed as well.

    Anne would see that she had no more power than Henry allowed her, although she pushed the boundaries because she could not give him a son either. Ironically Henry never blamed Katherine but he did blame Anne and for many other reasons he grew tired of her. The exact details of her fall are the subject of much written debate and I will not go through them again here. In the end Henry wanted one thing a son and he had wife no three lined up as poor Anne was executed on fake charges of treason, adultery and incest. Henry ensured that he found a more compliant wife, although to be honest she chose such a role willingly and learned to be quiet after a few encounters of the third kind. Jane tried to help Mary and the monks and the rebels but Henry was having none of it. He curbed Jane and future wives and only allowed what was good for his peace of mind. The first two wives of Henry Viii had shown him that women can have and will use power to get what they want. He was more prepared to use his own with the last four.

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