12 April 1533 – Anne Boleyn’s first public appearance as the official queen


On this day in history, 12th April 1533, Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn, made her first public appearance as the king’s official queen consort. They had married secretly on 25th January 1533 and Anne was pregnant, but it was only on 11th April, when the king was sure that the annulment of his first marriage was soon to be sorted out, that Henry VIII ordered his council to recognise Anne as queen.

For her first public appearance as queen, Anne chose to attend Holy Saturday mass in the Queen’s closet at Greenwich Palace. According to Eustace Chapuys, the imperial ambassador, she had was accompanied by “60 young ladies” and was “loaded with jewels, clothed in a robe of cloth of gold friese”.

Read more…

Related Post

40 thoughts on “12 April 1533 – Anne Boleyn’s first public appearance as the official queen”
  1. The silence this day must have been deafening.
    Love the sketch on the other page. Very beautiful.

  2. I had to take a step back and try to imagine being an Englishman at that time: Here goes- I’ve been taught my whole life that what God binds together let no man tear apart. Yet here is God’s annointed committing what looks like adultry. He also claims that God’s representative in Rome made a mistake by issuing a dispensation to marry Queen Katherine? How can this be? I was taught the Pope is infallible and to obey our monarch. It seems Henry had no core beliefs, just what was convenient and expected everyone else to be the same. Most humans don’t work that way and the King couldn’t seem to understand that.

    1. Carolyn garcia I disagree with the idea of England belonging to the curupt church in Rome. Henry is a great king he was educated by sir ThomasMoore,and the smartest, man in,,England. Henry is a great king .

  3. Anne appears in gold and is no doubt a shining, glowing vision in the lovely dress and the sketch is very beautiful and people must have been dazzled and stunned. Henry I believe was proud of her and his and her accomplishment, but also nervous and suspicious as his eyes cast about the faces of his people, looking for signs of discontent. We sometimes talk of Henry as not caring, but there was one thing he cared about deeply, to the extent that he was very sensitive about how he appeared to his people, he felt very much that his image witg his people was good and should not be tarnished. He knew people were whispering, he knew Katherine was popular and Anne not, he knew he would have to make her popular, he would have to end any opposition, but first he would need to get his new monarchy message across. We know he was concerned and sensitive because of the absolute onslaught of plays, entertainment, pamphlets and propaganda that he and Cromwell and Cranmer and others put out to explain his new ideas. Now was not the time for such concerns, but he was watching and he was at least aware that nobody did anything to oppose him even if the silence was deafening.

    This was Anne’s day and she was now officially Queen. She had prayers said and received the blessings fit for a Queen. Anne must have looked beautiful and radient in gold and with jewellery and robes and her face must have lit up. She was in her finest and she was also pregnant with the Kings son as she hoped. Her hour had come.

    Chapuys must have been in the know, to be privy to what was meant to be a secret commission to hold a court on the marriage and it shows nothing is a secret at Court and how reliable his reports are. Now the world knew.

  4. You can make people bow and curtesy and afford the respect that’s required of them, but you cannot change what’s in their hearts, Henry himself said once he could do many things but he could not make the people cheer, this was apparent on Annes coronation day when hardley anyone clapped or cheered, Anne must have swanned about that day like the queen bee, she was quite possibly even more arrogant than usual, arrogance is an unattractive trait and can cause deep seated resentment, she was known for her arrogant high handed manner and after this day must have become even more so, those who thought years before that she was a five minute wonder were forced to eat their words, how was it possible a slip of a girl could so enchant the King that he was ready to split his kingdom in two to marry her, Chapyus must have been foaming at the mouth, to him she was still the concubine and would never be anything but, housewives up and down the kingdom must have been worried and keeping a closer eye on their husbands when they dallied in the market too long or in the taverns, was there something else that kept them so long from their hearth? If the King could put aside his wife so could they, marriage was a sacred union yet the King had shown it could be ended, that Saturday at mass the atmosphere must have been electric, how I wish I had been there.

    1. I agree. That Henry had to tell his courtiers to go to Anne and give her great assurances and to show loyalty and the word used is beg, not command, although enjoin would be more accurate, tells us much of the mood at Court. There is still a small amount of opposition around, an air of criticism and Henry senses that he doesn’t yet have the full control of the Anne is my legal wife parade. There are many small incidents in the previous months which hint at voices making final attempts to try and get Henry to reconsider and no law as yet could be cited to silence the public discontent. Henry had in fact allowed wider expressions of speech and several people spoke out. His courtiers were no different. They took risks and spoke out in Council, often to receive a rebuke, but Henry was only too aware that he had to still more work to do. He couldn’t force people to cheer and Anne complained of that at her coronation, but he could send them to pay her homage, to cheer her up and to make this day hers in every sense. This is what he did with his Council, sent them to Anne, possibly with good wishes and gifts and he has a large retinue attend her, making her more of a Queen.

      60 young women are in her retinue, probably also richly attired and all from the powerful families of England. A person of note is Mary Howard, the daughter of the Duke of Norfolk, sister to Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, who is promised to Henry’s illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond. She is publicly prayed for as Queen, shocking the majority of people, who would still be praying for Queen Katherine and her coronation is announced. This is all carefully choreographed for maximum effect, but Henry is all too aware that silence is not a good start. Even if as turned out, Anne was not too bad a Queen and in fact reached out to help ordinary people, she was only being seen now as the woman who removed the beloved Katherine and Mary and who has cast a spell over their beloved King. You could make as many harsh laws as you like, but you cannot force an open display of genuine affection. As long as people don’t boo and throw stuff and get out of control, silence is as best as you can accept. Henry and Anne had work to do and the PR department went into overdrive.

      I am not certain I would agree that Henry didn’t have any core values, Michael, although there are many areas he definitely made it up as he went along and believed what was convenient. His attitude to the Papacy had definitely changed because of his annulment and it was no longer expedient for him to accept Papal authority, although he was a genuine defender of the Pope in the 1520s. His core religious beliefs, though, really don’t change very much. Henry still had a commitment to the idea of Seven Sacraments and to the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist/Holy Communion is very evident as he comes down hard on a group of Reforming Heretics called Sacramentarians, who believe much as modern Anglicans now do, that the presence is symbol. Henry was involved in a famous case when an ex friar called John Lambert preached thus and is prosecuted, first by Cromwell, who went to University with him and lets him go and then Stephen Gardiner. He is arrested again and Cromwell is involved in the process. He is brought to the King’s attention when he asserts his right to have his case heard by the King. He obviously thinks Henry will be just, but he is no longer a just King. Lambert argued his case very well, but Henry, having sat through all this for a long time asks him one question: Do you believe that the Sacrament of the Alter as it is also called, the Holy Eucharist is actually the Body and Blood of Christ? Lambert answered no and Henry tells him he has condemned himself with the words of Christ at the last supper: This is My Body. This is My Blood. Game over and Lambert was sentenced to the dreadful punishment and burned at the stake. It is a horrible highlighted moment but it shows Henry upholding the very heart of Catholic belief.

      I would say Henry saw himself as the true representative of God and that he really needed to put right what He disapproved of in order to be blessed with a son and heir. His relationship with the Church as an institution changed radically, but his core Orthodox Christian Faith remained the same. Over the next decade we will see him move in two directions, one towards reform and one back towards Orthodox religion. He was very interested and knowledgeable about theology because he was raised for the Church, he was a brilliant man and very clever but he was also a political manipulator. Henry waded into the monasteries because he wanted and needed money. However, he managed to make others believe it was out of religious zeal to correct greed and false doctrine that he ended the monastic system of over 900 religious houses across the country. This was one old core devotion he had lost because it was convenient. When there are so many contradictions in a person, it is no wonder few historians actually claim to really understand Henry Viii. Personally I actually think that some of his decisions really defy explanation. His people must have been totally shocked and confused by these new events.

      1. You are right. I exaggerated a bit. I’m not even sure he believed in that much reform at the end. The first line of his will reads: ‘In the name of God and of the glorious and blessed Virgin our Lady Sainct Mary and of all the holy company of Heaven’. This certainly does not sound reformist. Maybe he just wanted to cover all his bases? I think he truly believed in God but wasn’t wedded to a particular doctrine. Only he knew.

      2. Henry was its true at heart a Catholic and he died in the Catholic faith, but reform was essential to him because he cut himself of from the Pope and from then on he was supreme ruler in his kingdom, he was head of his new church and he would have absolute authority, England would not be ruled by the Holy See anymore! So Catholicsm was out and the new religion was in but he had been raised in the Catholic Church as England had been Catholic for centuries, and as Bq mentions he being the second son had been raised for a career in the church, so a deep sense of piety had been instilled in him, it is very difficult when you have been brought up in one belief to suddenly change your way of thinking but as we know, Henry did what was convenient for him, but he was deep down of the old faith, I agree he was a most difficult man to understand and I doubt his contemporaries maybe even his lifelong friend Suffolk found him baffling at times.

        1. Very well said. I don’t know about you but I am quite thankful that I have never known anyone like him and hope I never do.

  5. Still if I were given the choice of whom to have at my dinner table I would choose King Henry V111, he was an intelligent Renaissance man, not all just blood and guts, it would be most interesting having a chat with him.

      1. I often wonder if Henry had been born in a family in one of the lowest classes how different would his personality had manifested.

      2. Well don’t forget Gail, Henry liked to spar with intelligent people, which is one of the reasons he was attracted to Anne Boleyn, she had an interest in theology and reform like he did, they were both cultured people, he had an interest in astronomy to, it would just be interesting getting into a conversation with him.

        1. Even in his last years when he was very much on the edge of cruelty, it was often commented that he was found to be cheerful, astute, even charming and friendly by people who met him. I can imagine him being the centre of everything and even as an ordinary person taking over the conversation and being the centre of attention. He was a big man in every sense of the word and his personality was partly developed by his upbringing but also from his experience and his life so it is hard to say how different he would be as an ordinary person. Certainly without the stress to provide the country with a male heir some of his later negative character might have been channelled into the job he did, rather than changing the face of England.

          I too am really glad we are in a more tolerant age because a conversation would like this would not be possible. It was a very difficult time for all but the most ardent support for the King’s new ideas and reforms. Anne had friends of course, supporters and those who made her rise possible and had helped Henry in his annulment and his changes pleased them of course, but the majority would have been deeply shocked as all of this happened very quickly and was against everything they had been taught for generations. A very scary time indeed.

  6. Yes, yes, and yes to everything said, Michael and Christine, Henry knew how to use the fringes of religion and reform as convenient to his political needs, his need for money and his marriage and succession, but he was deep down a faithful Catholic at heart and he made certain everyone knew it. Henry was one of the most baffling Kings when it comes to pinpointing his reforms or his religious changes as they fluctuated. By the end of his reign he was appealing for unity as well as uniformity of religious thought and even tolerant attitudes from Parliament, such was the diversity of opinions and interpretation of Scripture now that it was in the common tongue. There is a sense of regret in his final speech because Henry was well versed in the Word of God, loved the Bible and saw it being misused in the tavern, which saddened him. He called the Bible, “that precious jewel, God’s holy word” and it was not intended to be debated and jangling in ale houses, but this had happened. Henry had swung between reform and enforcement of traditional Catholic doctrine on the Sacraments. I think people were baffled and there are times in his reign when you didn’t know what was orthodox and what wasn’t and yes, Suffolk I think with others did find the whole thing confusing. David Starkey described Henry as one of the most unusual and original Kings and he was certainly that. I would definitely have him for dinner, but I think I would make my will first. You never could know what he was promoting at any given time and there is a lot of personal shaping of all things to suit his nerds, his alliances, his current wife and his ambitions.

    Suffolk is another man who elludes us all when it comes to his religious tastes. He married a woman who became a red hot Evangelical, his home was a refuge for reformers, with the Scottish reformer, Alexander Seton dying in one, his wife, Katherine Willoughby was emerging as an outspoken supporter of reform, he supported the campaign against Wolsey, his own friendship with the Seymour faction could suggest a support for reform and he sudes with Henry during the divorce, yet spoke out against Anne. Now not all of these choices have anything to do with religious sentiment, but it can easily appear that he was at least tolerant of reform. He may simply have seen faith as something personal. However, he didn’t promote Biblical translation and was not interested in hearing the Gospel, with others to read and interpret them for him and he was mostly desirable of the way things were before all of these changes. He was supportive of the King out of loyalty. He bent with the wind as did most of the nobility and he was also someone who appears to have favoured the growing anti clerical feeling in the country. We know very little about his personal religious ideas or faith and all we can glean is from bits of activities which in truth are probably more activated by political change or his fourth wife than the Duke himself. Whatever his sentiments on religious changes, one thing we do know is that reformers stayed at his home and he benefited from the dissolution of the monasteries as his rebuilding of Grimsthorpe in Lincolnshire was funded by taking materials from the Abbey close by.

    Where Henry and Suffolk a pair of pragmatists who went with what met their needs or can we see a genuine devotion and personal faith here? I believe Henry definitely had a real devotion but it was used at times for his own desires and Suffolk followed fashion.

  7. It would have been a scary time living in Henry’s England. When it comes to what he expected of the populace in regards to religion he is like a man who hired an architect to help him design a house and every time they are ready to start building he wants to make changes. Very frightening when failure to conform can mean your death.

    1. Agree we really have no idea what it must have been like to have lived in an age where the only way was the King or Queens way, it was a short step to the block or Tyburn, there were spies everywhere, and it seemed the higher your position, the more precarious your life became, consider Catherine Parr, her position should have been secure yet Gardiner nearly succeeded in toppling her head off, in Elizabeths reign the great houses of the period had secret rooms where the Catholic priests could pray in safety, many of the old prominent families of England were Catholic and they lived an uneasy existence for it was considered treason to harbour Catholic priests, in Mary’s reign many English nobles went abroad to escape persecution, it’s a great pity they were so intolerant of religion what did it matter what doctrine you chose to believe in as long as you prayed to the same God?

      1. I appreciate the time we live in now. Catholics and Protestants all commenting on this site and no one is in danger.

  8. I’d like to say that I have been banned from commenting twice now so I would just like to say goodbye and thank you all so much for your input. I have learned a great deal. It has been a privilege to read you.

      1. What a shame. I hope you can stay as you will be missed. Take care, Globerose. If not, goodbye and good luck.

    1. Hi Globerose,
      I’ve checked and you haven’t been banned at all, your comment just got held for review (moderation) and you got “locked” while it was held. Unfortunately, I wasn’t around when that happened otherwise I would have approved it straight away. We have software on the site that prevents spam comments and we have to use it as otherwise we get thousands of them posted, really awful ones, and it sometimes asks people to prove that they are real (sometimes people post from IP addresses that there are alerts for, there are all kinds of things that it looks for), but you haven’t been banned at all and I’m so sorry that you feel that you have. You are always welcome here. When users are asked to prove they are real, I always check them as soon as I possibly can but sometimes I’m not at my computer and it takes a while. Sorry!

      1. I’ll talk to Tim and see if we can do something to make sure you’re not flagged by the filter. I’m not sure if it’s possible but we managed it with someone else who kept being flagged due to their IP address.

  9. Thanks Claire. Sorry to be a nuisance.
    ” I have betimes been in a jam (or two),
    But never before put in SPAM! (so phew!).
    Ha ha!

      1. It happens to me all the time when I post here as well.It seems like every time and I hardly ever comment so pretty weird definitely.

        1. I used to have to have all comments set to moderation and manually check each comment as it was posted, so at least I don’t have to do that any more and the majority of commenters’ comments get posted straight away. It’s not perfect, but it does save us from all the awful spam that gets posted. Thank you for your patience.

  10. I too have often wondered what Henry V111 would have been like if he had been born just the son of the local butcher or the local farmhand, no doubt he being very athletic would have sxcelled at sports and won all the village races, the young girls would have flocked round him because of his good looks, there was always something in him that set him apart even when very young, as he grew up he must have seemed like a young god to his contemporaries, he stood over six foot in an age when the average height for a man was considerably shorter, he was naturally bright and because he had the best tutors he enjoyed a good education, all this he would have been denied if his upbringing had been very different, yet he had such a forceful personality I feel he would have gone onto to bigger things, like Wolsley and Cromwell, both sons of poor men they went to college and by sheer determination abd ambition they both entered the court of Henry V111, Wolsley became a cardinal and while the King was very young, de facto ruler of Englsnd, Cromwell himself rose to become his chief minister, such people have that in them to strive to bigger things, Henry I feel with his intellectual mind would have found a way to go to Cambridge or Oxford and maybe had a good profession like a lawyer, we can only speculate but yes as Bq says. without the pressure of ruling a kingdom and the urgent desire to have a son I believe he would have retained his sunny nature, he had an explosive temper it’s true and he could have been involved in some brawls in the local taverns, he would have had his pick of the girls and possibly settled down with one or two, I think he would have had the odd mistress though, but I can see him having children and delighting in them, whatever sex they were, without the dangerous sport of jousting which was reserved for only the rich he would have had no head injuries, with his athletic prowess he would not have spiralled into the bloated old man he became, we can only speculate but I think his life would have been a lot happier.

    1. The name Ian Saint John or John Tossack come to mind, two huge footballers from LFC heyday, one a huge centre forward, one centre back, both intimidating to the opposition. We know Henry played football because we have his footy boots, several pairs in fact and I recall seeing one pair in 2009. Talk about the golden boot, these were a very battered pair of gold and black huge footy boots, clearly worn several times so I can well imagine His Majesty up front heading in a goal or three and putting in some Jimmy Case type tackles. He could put an opponent a few feet in the air and had a boot on him like a missile. I can imagine Henry getting stuck in and there must have been a few courtiers with bruised shins and hurt bones. I can also imagine Henry as a race winner if he was a farmers son and he was the harvest King or something with the women all over him, his kids and wife around him. Henry might even have tried to take part in the open tournaments in the provinces, just as in Medieval times, pretending to be a knight and getting disqualified. This is shown in the works of Chaucer as the poor knight enters the lists and the film A Knights Tale, but we also have a real life poor knight who took on all comers and earned his spurs by defeating other knights before being entered into Royal service. We know him as William Marshall, the Knight who saved England and served three Kings, but his early years were spent living from hand to mouth and he had went around the tournament to make a living. I can well imagine Henry pretending to be a knight, putting real knights on their backsides and winning glory before getting into trouble. With his big personality he would have to be something big and his intelligence certainly would make an impact. I can also imagine him and his mates going around the nearest town and getting drunk and being in constant trouble and ending up being packed off to University to make him calm down. I can even imagine him in service at Court as many others did and flowering into a great servant of the crown.

  11. Henry as the farmers son! Our history would not have been so colourful had he been born so. I forgot to mention football it was a very popular game at the time, I didn’t know his footy boots had survived, so has his tennis racquet by all accounts I believe it’s in Hampton Court, I bet he played both sports with his shirt of in the summer, showing all those rippling muscles, yes I can well see him making something of himself whatever his station in life, he was such a colourful personality and such people to thrive to bigger things.

  12. Wow what a couple
    Henry is a great king he was educated by sir Thomas Moore. He loved the people who loved him.he understood the churches are corrupt and made great investment for all of England

    1. Sorry to say I don’t think he gave the people much thought at all. Henry’sy main concern was with himself and his legacy. I’m sure there were some corrupt monasteries but certainly not all. If that was his concern the money from the dissolutions could have been used for poor relief but it wasn’t. He hoarded it for his own use. For wars etc.
      Love the new options below the ‘post comments’ button

    2. Thomas More was a good friend to Henry VIII but he did not educate him. People had high hopes for Henry VIII at the start of his reign as he was seen as a true Renaissance prince who would bring joy, justice etc. to the land, but I’m not sure he can be called a “great king”. I’m not sure that his dissolution of the monasteries was purely to stamp out corruption. I think if Henry VIII had done it for purely good reasons then the wealth from the monasteries would have gone on education and poor relief, rather than into the king’s coffers and as rewards to his nobles. The dissolution of the monasteries was a social nightmare. The monasteries had served as hospitals, places where the poor could get food and be helped, places of education, places for the elderly and infirm… Their dissolution was a real loss for the people of England and nothing was put in their place. The monasteries could have been reformed rather than being dissolved.
      And look what he did to the Carthusian monks! 18 men of God persecuted and killed. And then two of his wives… Thomas More, Bishop Fisher, the elderly Margaret Pole. While I think it’s too simplistic to view him as solely a tyrant, I can’t think how he can be described as a “great king”.

  13. I agree I think Henry is too complex a character to slap the label great or tyrant on him, it all depends really on whether we rate his achievements over the acts of bloodshed he committed, to some he is a hero who freed us from Rome and founded the new church and the navy, to others he was a selfish axe swinging egoistic brute who used his conscience to explain the many horrendous acts he carried out, certainly whatever his contemporaries made of Henry and how his biographers and those interested in him think of him now, there is no doubt that he really was one of a kind, from smiling with Cromwell one day to having him clapped in irons the next, from writing heartfelt letters to his second queen and signing his signature with a heart swearing he would rather beg from door to door than forsake her, to doing just that several years down the line, the King who loved adoration and revelled in being the centre of attention, who could be generous and benevolent one second, yet who dined on peacock and venison in his sumptuous palaces whilst all around him, the beautiful monasteries burnt, could he smell the charred embers as the wind carried them along the Thames to Greenwich, could he hear the crying of those poor souls who were turned out of their refuge – their sanctuary, where would they go when they were sick and when the winter came, who would look after them, I find a resemblance to Nero who according to legend played the fiddle whilst the eternal city burned, such a lot of monasteries were ruined, one was razed to the ground, some elaborate tombes were lost in the desecration, a dreadful loss for some of them were Norman, Henry was thinking of the treasures they contained which would fill his depleted coffers, not the poor sick and old who wandered the lanes begging for sustenance, that one act shamed him more than any other I believe.

  14. While I agree that the Church had become corrupt, I disagree that as an institution it was corrupt. Reform needed to be from within not destruction from the outside. Even Thomas More made proposals to reform the clergy. He was a loyal Catholic and didn’t waiver in that but he could see that some reform was needed. Thomas More did not educate, Henry but he did influence his humanist views. Henry broke from Rome because the Pope first took too long over his annulment, which was debated in an English Court, then in two Courts of doctrine and canon law known as the Rota and Curia in Rome. The Pope approved or disapproved the final decision. For purely political reasons, no decision was made. The Emperor was the nephew of Henry’s Queen, Katherine of Aragon, and his armies had sacked Rome and held Clement Vii prisoner. He was allowed to escape but his armies still posed a threat. When Anne knew that she was pregnant, Henry married her without any further and he began a process to make Anne his lawful wife. The new Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, very much for a new movements towards reform, now sought leave to open a Court in England to decide the matter. The Court at Dunstable Monastic House made Anne legal wife and Katherine had her marriage annulled. Henry was certainly one of the smartest and larger than life people to sit on the throne and yes, he had declared himself Head of the Church, but the legislation had not gone through Parliament but this marriage marked his final break. He would not wait any longer and he would not accept any more opposition. It was no longer convenient, but he remained a Catholic, but without Rome. His decision had dire consequences for many from the old families and who remained steadfastly loyal to the true faith, to the authority of Rome, listed above, and the decision to get rid of the monasteries made him very rich. England’s great King? There are many things that Henry did to make him great, as father of the navy, but he messed it all up with his later tyranny. However, those who supported full scale reformation may well have thought Henry as great and doing the right thing if they truly saw the Church as corrupt. I don’t think many historians would agree, certainly most people would be horrified at the death of many good men and women, under the Tudors, but Henry’s movement did have support. Most people, though would have been afraid, confused and may even have thought Henry had gone mad.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *