12 April 1533 – Anne Boleyn Attends Mass as Queen

Anne Boleyn NPGThe day after Henry VIII had ordered his Royal Council to recognise Anne Boleyn as Queen, Anne attended Easter Eve mass in the Queen’s closet at Greenwich Palace “with all the pomp of a Queen, clad in cloth of gold, and loaded (carga) with the richest jewels.”1 This was Anne’s first appearance as Queen and was a public statement of her status.

It was her first public appearance as Queen and it was time to make a statement that she was Henry VIII’s rightful wife and Queen.

The imperial ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, reported this event to Emperor Charles V in a letter written on 15th April:

“On Saturday, Easter Eve, dame Anne went to mass in Royal state, loaded with jewels, clothed in a robe of cloth of gold friese. The daughter of the duke of Norfolk, who is affianced to the duke of Richmond, carried her train; and she had in her suite 60 young ladies, and was brought to church, and brought back with the solemnities, or even more, which were used to the Queen. She has changed her name from Marchioness to Queen, and the preachers offered prayers for her by name. All the world is astonished at it for it looks like a dream, and even those who take her part know not whether to laugh or to cry. The King is very watchful of the countenance of the people, and begs the lords to go and visit and make their court to the new Queen, whom he intends to have solemnly crowned after Easter, when he will have feastings and tournaments; and some think that Clarencieux went four days ago to France to invite gentlemen at arms to the tourney, after the example of Francis, who did so at his nuptials. I know not whether this will be before or after, but the King has secretly appointed with the archbishop of Canterbury that of his office, without any other pressure, he shall cite the King as having two wives; and upon this, without summoning the Queen, he will declare that he was at liberty to marry as he has done without waiting for a dispensation or sentence of any kind.”2

The procession to mass sounds like quite a spectacle and must have caused a real stir. You can imagine the whispering and muttering, can’t you?

Chronicler and Windsor Herald Charles Wriothesley also records the event:

“the 12th day of Aprill, Anno Domini 1533, beinge [A.D. 1533.] Easter eaven, Anne Bulleine, Marques of Pembroke, was proclaymed Queene at Greenewych, and ofFred that daie in the Kinges Chappell as Queene of Englande.”3

As does Edward Hall:

“… and so on Easter eve, she went to her closet openly as Quene, with all solemnitie.”4

1533 was a busy spring, with all of the preparations for Anne becoming queen, the annulment of Henry’s first marriage and Anne’s coronation. Just three years later saw another busy spring, but how different it was.

Notes and Sources

  1. Calendar of State Papers, Venice, iv. 870
  2. LP vi. 351
  3. Wriothesley, Charles. A Chronicle of England During the Reign of the Tudors, From A.D. 1485 to 1559, p17
  4. Hall, Edward. Hall’s Chronicle, p795

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11 thoughts on “12 April 1533 – Anne Boleyn Attends Mass as Queen”
  1. Hello,
    I wonder if there had been any precedence on
    Poligamy in the 1500s? It seems to me very unsettling
    That no one man even a king could end his own
    Marriage in Gods eyes. There for rendering
    said man married to two woman at the same time.

    1. Polygamy wouldn’t be an issue since Henry VIII and his counselors stood on the supposition that his marriage to Catherine of Aragon was forbidden by God as she had been married to his brother, Arthur, before marrying Henry VIII, making the marriage null and not requiring an annulment.

  2. I think it sounds just awful ,the idea that henry decided to divorce himself ,(or had he by this time )from Katherine,its not possible that even henry could have had two wives both being queen at the same time,no matter who declared him divorced it was not legal especially henry being a catholic ,so neither henry nor anne could have called themselves catholics or even religious and to Make everyone condone this behaviour is also wrong ,they must have been the laughing stock of the country ,(of course behind closed doors and not within ear of henry)or the tower you would go hastily.

    1. From Henry’s point of view the marriage was wrong and the Pope should never have issued the dispensation. We today find the argument rather convenient but I think Henry genuinely believed that the lack of a living son showed that there was something wrong with the marriage. He saw it as null and void and therefore could marry Anne. He wouldn’t have seen it as bigamy, he would have seen it as the right thing in God’s eyes and I suspect he convinced Anne of that too.

      The Lucy Worsley programme that was on a few days ago talked about Henry’s desperation to fulfil his duty and it really showed just how much pressure was on Henry. The country’s fate rested on his shoulders, he HAD to provide an heir to give the country stability and security, and we just don’t see that today. He believed that the price was worth it. What he did to Catherine and Anne was all worth it when he held Edward for the first time. Hard for us to understand, but we’re not living in that time.

      1. Claire, do you think the pressure on Henry VIII to have a male heir was any greater than that endured by many other monarchs before and after his time? Yet, Henry is the only English monarch (I believe) to have more than two spouses and the only one to get rid of a spouse through state-sanctioned murder.

        It’s true that uncertainity over the heir had in the past sparked civil unrest (e.g. the Anarchy of Matilda’s time, and the War of the Roses that led to the Tudors), so I can, to a degree, understand the fear of returning to such unrest if Henry did not have a clear heir. But such a situation did not appear to bother Elizabeth. She had no child and she named no heir, and yet there was no unrest. Also, Henry’s horrific behaviour continued well after he had a male heir.

        I’m araid I can’t muster up any sympathy for Henry. To me, he seems like someone out of control. Imagine a 3 year-old, then give that 3 year-old absolute power over all around him, and I think you have Henry!

  3. Does anyone know the significance of the 60 young ladies in her suite? Most things like that had meaning in Tudor times. Why that number?

    What if, oh if, it was double Anne’s age??

    1. I think it was just to make a statement of her power and status, the “wow” factor. Number of mourners in funerals had meaning but I haven’t heard anything about other events like this.

      1. Yes to wow factor – I wonder if the King exerted subtle or not-so-subtle pressure on the families of the young ladies to ensure there would be an impressive number of them. Payoffs, even?

  4. Did Henry really believed that his marriage to Katherine was null? OR did he just used it as an argument to get rid of her and marry Anne?

  5. I commented on another section about an article I read several years ago. The author stated that Henry was technically “in the right” to ask for an annulment, and that it wasn’t unusual to do this based on the fact that he didn’t have male heir and his belief that the original dispensation from the Pope was wrong. If the pope wasn’t “in the clutches” of the Holy Roman Emperor (Katherine’s nephew), he may have gotten his annulment much earlier!

    Eleanor of Aquitaine was married to the French King Louis for several years, the marriage produce two daughters, and he also had to have a male heir. They were granted their annulment and Eleanor when on to promptly marry the future Henry II, producing sons William, Henry, Richard, George and John, plus daughters. Several other monarchs also had annulments, including King John who was married to his first wife for several years before marrying Isabelle d’Angouleme.

  6. Even today, monarchs are still under pressure to produce heirs. Whilst the British monarchy are no longer under pressure to provide ‘Male’ heirs, they are still under pressure to produce an heir. William and Kate confirm this. No sooner are they wed, they’re pregnant, securing the next generation of monarchs. As was the case with Charles and Diana. The author Hillary Mantel (Wolf Hall, Bring up the Bodies), touched on this fact recently and caused a little bit of a hoo ha.
    Elizabeth II can go to her grave, knowing that the succession is directly secured for the next three generations at least. God willing.

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