18 April 1536 – Chapuys does Anne Boleyn “reverence”

Posted By on April 18, 2015

Eustace Chapuys On 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

6 thoughts on “18 April 1536 – Chapuys does Anne Boleyn “reverence””

  1. Courtney Snyder says:

    This time of year… I get sad. Reading this article just makes me realize….it’s coming!

  2. Esther says:

    I’ve always been curious why this incident gets so much attention. I don’t recall reading that Charles (or Chapuys) ever changed anything in their attitudes or words about Anne Boleyn after Chapuys supposedly “honors Anne as queen”

    1. Hannele says:

      To Esther

      The crux of the matter is what the incident and the discussion between the Henry and Chapuys tells about Henry’s attitude to Anne Were the relationships of Henry and Anne were at that time ok and did Henry sincerely want Anne’s position as Queen recognized by Emperor? Or was Henry already decided to get rid of Anne and did he demand the Emperor to recognize her position only out of pride that he had right to do in his private life as he pleased?

  3. Rowan says:

    I can’t remember right now exactly what I read, or where, but I think there’s a least some doubt that Chapuys was tricked into acknowledging Anne.

    1. Claire says:

      Would it have been in Lauren Mackay’s book on Chapuys? Lauren goes with another interpretation of the sources, that Anne was paying her respects to Chapuys, and through him, Charles V himself, and that Chapuys was simply acknowledging that. However, I believe that Chapuys was downplaying it and the fact that he writes of Mary’s anger and jealousy over his actions points to it being more than that. I believe that Henry VIII was not happy with Chapuys’ refusal to meet Anne and that he wanted to force him into acknowledging her as his queen.

  4. BanditQueen says:

    I think that I agree with Lauren Mackay book and interpretation, I dont think that Chaprys intended to do reverence to Anne, and as far as he was concerned he did not recognise her as queen, he was being polite. However, Henry had manouvered this moment because he was keen for international, especially that of the Emperor recognition of the legal marriage between him and Anne Boleyn. Henry certainly saw this as Chapyrus doing reverence to Anne; he had a different spin on things, he saw that Anne bowed to him and he returned thefavour. Anne and Henry saw he had done her reverence, not homage, but a bow that he had avoided none the less.

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