18 April 1536 – Chapuys does Anne Boleyn “reverence”

Posted By on April 18, 2015

Eustace ChapuysOn 18th April 1536, just a month and a day before Anne Boleyn’s execution, Eustace Chapuys, the imperial ambassador was manoeuvred into a position which forced him to encounter Anne Boleyn and bow to her, recognising her as queen.

We know from Chapuys’ report to Charles V that he had refused the offer of visiting Anne and kissing her hand:

“Before the King went out to mass Cromwell came to me on his part to ask if I would not go and visit and kiss the Concubine, which would be doing a pleasure to this King; nevertheless, he left it to me. I told him that for a long time my will had been slave to that of the King, and that to serve him it was enough to command me; but that I thought, for several reasons, which I would tell the King another time, such a visit would not be advisable, and I begged Cromwell to excuse it, and dissuade the said visit in order not to spoil matters.”

However, the King was not happy with this response. Anne’s brother, George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, conducted the ambassador to mass and manoeuvred him behind the door through which Anne would enter. As Anne entered with the King, she turned, stopped and bowed to Chapuys. Chapuys had no choice but to bow in return:

“I was conducted to mass by lord Rochford, the concubine’s brother, and when the King came to the offering there was a great concourse of people partly to see how the concubine and I behaved to each other. She was courteous enough, for when I was behind the door by which she entered, she returned, merely to do me reverence as I did to her.”

Chapuys downplays the incident here, but in a later letter to Granvelle he writes that Henry VIII’s daughter, Mary, was unhappy with his actions:

“Although I would not kiss or speak to the Concubine, the Princess and other good persons have been somewhat jealous at the mutual reverences required by politeness which were done at the church.”

Notes and Sources

  • LP x. 699
  • LP x. 720
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