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18 April 1536 – Chapuys Tricked into Acknowledging Anne Boleyn as Queen

Posted By on April 18, 2013

Eustice Chapuys 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

15 thoughts on “18 April 1536 – Chapuys Tricked into Acknowledging Anne Boleyn as Queen”

  1. Nancy says:

    It sort of makes me wonder what was going on in Henry’s mind. He tricked Anne’s enemy, Chapuys, into acknowledging her as Queen, but less than 30 days later Anne was in the Tower awaiting execution.

  2. Marilyn R says:

    I like his gossipy letters to the Queen of Hungary.

    Am I right in thinking that someone has a biography of him in the pipeline?

    1. Claire says:

      Yes, Lauren Mackay for Amberley Publishing.

  3. Delia says:

    WOW i did’nt know King Henry and Anne were that desperate for everyone to acknowledge their marriage and acknowledge Anne as Queen. Henry may have anulled his marriage but Queen Katherine never signed any divorce papers and she still called herself queen.
    Henry may have had his new queen Anne but to the people she was still his concubine, no matter how expensive cloths and jewellery she wore she was still looked at as the other woman. Keeping Queen Katherine and princess Mary did’nt help Anne’s image. To be respected you need to earn it
    If Henry and Anne marriage was okay and right then why go through such extreme lengths to have everyone acknowledge their marriage. It is a shame that their marriage did not last long after all this effort only to end 3 years later. Henry may have thought himself free from Katherine but he was not. What the Lord has joined together no man puts asunder.

    1. margaret says:

      I totally agree with delia ,this was trickery ,and chapuys would never have done this willingly,henry only did this because He needed anne to be accepted but she was not and sadly for her never would ,I think this among otherthings sent henry into paronoia about anne .it was henry that decided annes fate from the start no one else.

  4. Denise says:

    I am trying to understand the mindset – Anne and Henry trick Chapuys into acknowledging Anne as queen, but yet 31 days later she would be dead. Is the date 1536 truly correct?

    1. Claire says:

      Yes, this is one of the arguments that is often used to back up the theory that Anne’s fall was down to Cromwell, rather than Henry. But, of course, it can be argued that Henry would have wanted the Emperor to bend to his will regardless of his future plans for Anne.

      1. Leslie says:

        Wow, this really is a wicked game Henry played.

        I think Henry was already conspiring on how to get red of Anne by this time, and this was just a trick he played on Chapuys (who probably knew of the King tiring of Anne and Cromwell/Henry doing what they could to get rid of her and form a new alliance with Spain). He didn’t want Chapuys to feel too important, so he decided to, like in a chess game, play both of his pawns – Chapuys and Anne. Like you said, Claire, he wanted Chapuys to bend to his will.

        Two commissions of oyer and terminer were set up 6 days after this implicating Anne! How scary.

  5. Mary the Quene says:

    There was no way anybody residing in England in 1536 wasn’t going to bow to the King, and, by extension, to his Queen. It was the principle of the thing. If it had to be forced by trickery, so be it. Time must’ve slowed down for Chapuys from the second the door opened and he walked through it realizing immediately the full implication of his bow.

  6. Mary Heneghan says:

    It seems strange that Chapuys did not come face to face with Anne for three years. Was he
    not ambassador for all of that timr? How did he avoid meeting her? It makes no sense to force a meeting so soon before her execution

  7. Mary Ann Cade says:

    King Henry VIII was an expert dissembler by this time. He could pat you on the back and act as if nothing was wrong while behind the scenes he is working with his closest ministers to bring down anyone who he believed to have crossed him, betrayed him, or done him wrong in some way.

    I have to wonder if this was all “planned” between Henry, Cromwell, and even Chapuys, to give the Boleyns a false sense of security in the hopes that Anne would act in ways (i.e. innocent courly flirtations) that they could twist and use against her later. The timeline between this event and her execution, a mere 31 days (April 18, 1536 to May 19, 1536) is very suspect in my mind for a King to behave if he was completely happy and at peace with his marriage and the security of his realm.

    Sadly for Anne that she did not have any influential friends like Catherine did because she might have been allowed to live and take Eliabelth abroad with her, maybe even to France. Anne may have gotten to live and see her daughter gain the throne in the end and witness the triumph of the Boleyn family over the Tudors in the end.

  8. Lisa H says:

    I’ve always found the timing of this event interesting as well. And yes, Henry was going to make sure he got what he wanted regardless – at this point Katherine was dead, but Chapuys would not acknowledge Anne because that would be acknowledging that Katherine had not been queen; while Katherine was dead, Mary was still very much alive and such a voluntary gesture would have been like removing the Emperor’s support for Mary as the rightful heir. I bet Chapuys lost no time in communicating to Mary that this was not so, despite what happened in the chapel.

    There is one other reason for Henry to want Anne still treated as his rightful queen this late in the game: she be executed for adultery only if she really were queen.

    Which brings up the fact that Henry had Cramner annul the marriage on 17 May. Why? Was it as Cramner said, that Anne had confessed some circumstance “unknown at the time of the marriage” that made her marriage to Henry null and void? Or was this part of Henry’s plan?

    I’ve been fascinated by that question since it was brought to my attention in Susan Kay’s novel, Legacy. Mary Tudor is told that Anne is dead and that Henry had the marriage annulled before the execution and she is startled; if her father’s marriage to Anne had never existed in the eyes of God, how then could she be executed for adultery?

    1. Esther says:

      One of the charges against Anne was conspiring the king’s death, and that would not depend upon the validity of the marriage. The grounds of the annulment were never made public; many think that it was annulled based on Henry’s relationship with Mary Boleyn (as Mary Talbot, who married Henry Percy, tried to annul her marriage based on Henry’s alleged pre-contract with Anne in 1532 … when Henry swore up hill and down dale that there wasn’t one). . I think Henry might have arranged this to set himself up as the good husband/innocent spouse — which would fit in with keeping the annulment grounds secret (he doesn’t look good)

  9. Dawn 1st says:

    I have always thought that this ‘tricking’ of Chapuys was all about Henry, no-one else, though others played their parts..

    After all these years with Anne there were still many in England and Europe who did not recognise her as the true Queen. There wasn’t much Henry could do about Europe, but he was still hell bent on getting his own subjects and especially those who held position at court to bend to his will, even though it was possibe that things may have been in motion to remove Anne at this time. After all he showed favour to Cromwell by giving him an Earldom before he had his head on a spike a few months later.
    What prestige it gave to Anne at that time would have been ‘sweet’ for her, but I feel that it was just a by- product of a fait accomli for Henry’s narcisstic ego and power play, and her feelings would have meant little to him.
    One of the most anti-Boleyn, Catholic Statesman had show acknowlegement it seems to Anne, in public, but what a coup for Henry….

  10. Eva says:

    I’m not so sure why bowing to a lady means recognizing her as queen. I remember at that time people only kiss the hands of kings and queens, does bowing works the same? Or did Chapuys addressed her as your majesty or queen anne?Maybe bowing is simply a show of respect as Chapuys later explained and they could bow to anyone regardless of their social status.
    Still, it is a success for Anne to win the respect from her enemy.

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