On this day in 1536, Eustace Chapuys, the imperial ambassador, was tricked into acknowledging Anne Boleyn as Queen.Chapuys supported Catherine of Aragon and always referred to her as “Queen” and Anne Boleyn as either “the lady” or “the concubine”. He had managed to avoid acknowledging Anne’s status for three years but Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn got the better of him on 18th April 1536.
It was the Tuesday after Easter and Chapuys had come to Greenwich Palace to meet the King at Greenwich. He was met by George Boleyn, Lord Rochford (Anne’s brother), and Thomas Cromwell, who brought him a message from the King asking him to visit Anne and kiss her hand. Chapuys begged Cromwell to excuse him from this visit as he believed that “such a visit would not be advisable”. The King didn’t seem to mind. Chapuys records “the King came out and gave me a very kind reception, holding for some time his bonnet in his hand, and not allowing me to be uncovered longer than himself; and after asking how I was, and telling me that I was very welcome”. However, little did Chapuys know that the King, Anne and Rochford had something up their sleeves.
Chapuys goes on to say:
“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.”
This doesn’t sound like anything major, but what Chapuys is downplaying here is that Lord Rochford conducted Chapuys to mass, carefully placing the ambassador behind the door through which Anne would enter. Anne Boleyn, who was accompanying her husband to mass, knew exactly where Chapuys was and so stopped as she entered, swung round to him and bowed, Chapuys was forced to do likewise. He bowed to the Queen, he acknowledged her as Queen. Henry and Anne had got what they wanted, recognition of Anne’s status.
Notes and Sources
- Chapuys’ record taken from LP x.699