2 March 1522 – Elle mon coeur a navera, she has wounded my heart

On this day in history, 2nd March 1522, King Henry VIII rode out at the annual Shrovetide joust with the motto Elle mon coeur a navera, or “She has wounded my Heart”, embroidered on the trappings of his horse. Edward Hall records the event in his chronicle and I have modernised the spelling for ease of reading:

“In the month of March, as you have heard before, came certain noble men from the Emperor to the king, which the more to solace them enterprised a joust, he himself was chief on the one side, his courser was barded in cloth of silver, of Denmark embroidered with. L. L. L. of Gold, and under the letters a heart of a man wounded, and great rolls of gold with black letters, in which was written, mon nauera, put together it is, ell mon ceur a nauera, she hath wounded my harte, and the same suite was his base.

Then followed Sir Nicolas Carewe, his base and bard was white Damask, on which was embroidered with Cloth of gold: a prison and a man looking out at a grate, and over the prison came from the prisoner a roll, in which was written in French, “in prison I am at liberty, and at liberty I am in prison”, and all his apparel was guarded with shackles of silver.

Then followed the Earl of Devonshire, the Lord Roos in one suit, their apparel was white velvet, embroidered with cloth of gold, wrought in device a heart, traversed crosswise with a chain, the which divided the bard in four quarters, in two quarters was a hand of gold holding a spear of the world, on the other two quarters was two hands
holding two plumes of feathers, and on the borders were written “my heart is between joy and pain”.

Then followed Anthony Kingston, and Anthony Knivet, their apparel was a heart bound in a blue lace, embroidered on crimson satin: and written about with letters of gold, “my heart is bound”.

Nicholas Darrel had a bard and base of black satin, embroidered full of hearts, turned or broken of gold, and written in letters of silver, “my heart is broken”.

Last of that band was Anthony Brown, which had a bard of silver full of spears of the world broken, set on hearts broken all of gold written about in letters of black sance remedy, “without remedy”.

Then entered the Duke of Suffolk and his band, all in bards and bases of russet velvet and cloth of silver, embroidered with branches of paunces (?) of gold, at these jousts were many spears broken, which the strangers highly commended.”

It is often said that Henry VIII’s use of this motto and the Shrovetide theme of unrequited love is evidence of his courtship of Mary Boleyn, sister of Anne Boleyn, but there is actually no evidence that it was aimed at Mary. The motto could have been aimed at another woman that had caught the king’s eye or it may not have been aimed at anyone at all. Click here to read more about Mary Boleyn and her relationship with Henry VIII.

Three days later, Shrove Tuesday was celebrated with a special pageant, “The Château Vert”, at York Place. Mary Boleyn and Anne Boleyn both played parts in that pageant – see 4 March 1522 – Anne Boleyn and the Chateau Vert Pageant.

Notes and Sources

  • Hall, Edward. Hall’s chronicle: containing the history of England, during the reign of Henry the Fourth, and the succeeding monarchs, to the end of the reign of Henry the Eighth, in which are particularly described the manners and customs of those periods. Carefully collated with the editions of 1548 and 1550, Printed for J Johnson, 1809, p. 630-631.

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17 thoughts on “2 March 1522 – Elle mon coeur a navera, she has wounded my heart”
    1. I would think it is possible that he was referring to Katherine. Although it had been three years since her last pregnancy, Henry might have delayed coming to terms with lost fertility. IIRC, around 1522, Henry and Wolsey were negotiating with Charles for an alliance against France, so I doubt that Henry was planning on dumping Katherine at that time.

    2. Yes, I think that’s possible and it’s also possible that it was simply a chivalric theme that didn’t have any further meaning.

      1. My guess is the latter; in the language of courtly love, declarations like this – especially when part of a grouping – were just the memes of the day.

      2. I’m with you Claire. In these days of courtly love, the words weren’t expected to hold much significance. Also, at this point in time Henry made a habit of keeping his indiscretions away from his Queen’s awareness.

  1. I think it’s possible. Could be that if Katherine had a living boy, Henry might have stayed married to her and he could “dilly dally” and not worry about marital problems, but history would have been a lot different without Elizabeth I.

  2. It does sound like a reference to Anne Boleyn but we don’t know exactly when he declared his love for her and when she rejected him, It possibly was just a theme Henry chose.

    1. I think it would be too early for it to be referring to Anne. Anne had only just returned from France and the first record of her being at court is for this Shrovetide. She became involved with Henry Percy first and it does not appear that she caught the king’s eye until about 1526.

      1. Yes it was too early for Anne but the words sound very much like his courtship with her, he declaration of love and her rejection of him, I can imagine him saying those words to her but it was more than likely just his chosen theme for the celebrations.

        1. I quite agree with u : it sounds a bit less light than an exercise of style (even if chivalrous indeed to show that a lady could be more harmful to the most fierce khnight than a hostile pack, by finding him armorless, making him avow the tenderness of his heart) .
          So if KH was really “craving for love” at the time, who could have been his sighs’ object ?
          Is it ridiculous to mention elizabeth Blount ?
          Already married by then – with Gilbert Talboys, an arranged wedding that did not mean in itself that the king’s favour had finished when thinking of KH’s gifts to her (even if we can wonder if they wer not caused because she was mother of his son, the relation could have last after she became Lady talboys).
          1522 might as well have been the final step – and if it was Elizabeth who decided so, it could explain that this had “wounded (the royal) heart” indeed
          Or do we have to prefer Mary Boleyn ? If there are evidences that such a liaison ever existed at all, Mary was by then at court, as a maid-of-honor of the Queen.
          Of course, already married to Willliam Carey, but precisely at the same time, this unjealous husband was appointed keeper of the manor and estate of New Hall in Essex, the first of a long line of royal gifts to the pair.
          And this “first step” took place on the 5th of february 1522…
          Which perfectly suits with the fact that a lady “a navré le coeur” of KH .
          Weof course have heard of Queen Katherine’s possessiveness but do we know exactly the state of their relation by then ?
          And is it definitely impossible to imagine that KH’heart would be “wounded enough” by a feeling stronger than ever, to the point he could not help showing how loving he was …
          Of course only speculations …

  3. I think it’s very possible it was Mary Boleyn, even if it’s not proof and we know little of her relationship with Henry. A chivalrous symbol is also possible as everyone else seems to be following suit. Henry definitely still remained committed to his marriage to Katherine for at least another two years, although he did have Ambassadors exploring the possibility of a marriage elsewhere. His first investigation of his marriage was not until 1525/6 and his relationship with Anne dates from 1526/7. I hope they didn’t have the snow we have had again today and the terrible Eastern Wind, that would have made a joust fun I’m sure, although it must have been a fine display nonetheless.

    1. If Mary Boleyn was the mistress of Henry Viii in March 1522, then it was more than a light fling and she possibly was the favourite mistress of the King, whom he returned to over a longer period of time as it is very possible that he fathered Katherine Carey. Henry used to be very discreet about his mistresses, which is why they are all mysterious and his relationship with Mary has no details. However, we don’t have any real evidence for the parenthood of the daughter of William Carey but it has been suggested that a reward of money in the years of Katherine and Henry Carey’s birthdays in 1524 and 1526 relates to his secret acknowledgement of them. Henry kept his affairs to his own side of the palace while he was with Katherine and the only mistress we know to have his child, Elizabeth Blout, was sent away from Court and had his son in secret. He soon recognised the boy and found a husband for her. Mary was already married when Henry began his affair to his friend, which is why he may not have acknowledged her children or his love directly. Henry still cared for Katherine and there is some evidence to suggest that he was still formally seen with her and showed her respect and that he even loved her, but he was desperate for a son, although as yet there is no evidence that their marriage was over or that Katherine was not at the centre of all court ceremonies.

      1. Yes Henry never flaunted his mistresse’s in public, and Weir mentions that Katherine may not even have known about his affair with Mary Boleyn, early on in their marriage he did take a mistress, though I cannot remember her name and Katherine was devastated, and upbraided him quite vehemently, her reaction is quite natural since he had been a devoted husband to her up until then, he was said to be shocked and furious that she chose to do so as he was only doing what Kings had done for centuries, since then she had learnt to take a blind eye to his infidelities, he had always respected her as his wife and queen and did wear her colours at the joust, the jousting was just another part of the courtly love ritual that existed at the time, the words did not mean anything but I’m wondering if it was in honour of his latest lady love, she has wounded my heart does sound much like his courtship to Anne however but yes, it was too early and he was involved with her sister before his fancy lighted on Anne.

  4. The court was in love with the idea of love; I imagine it was rather like a singer-songwriter taking a feeling and bathing in it for a period of time in order to bring out the exquisite agony of being in love.

  5. Am I alone in being dazzled by those embroidered caparisons on the horses? What happened to these wonderful textiles when the event was over? They must have been recycled in some way.

    1. Undoubtedly these exquisitely embroidered and expensive textiles found a place to be admired and used until such time they disintegrated.

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