21 October 1532 – Henry goes off to see Francis I, leaving Anne Boleyn behind

On this day in Tudor history, 21st October 1532, King Henry VIII left his sweetheart, Anne Boleyn, the newly created Marquess of Pembroke, behind in Calais while he travelled to Boulogne to spend a few days at the French court with King Francis I.

Contemporary accounts tell us how beautifully the two kings were attired for their meeting, and there was a bit of a bromance, with Henry calling Francis his “beloved brother” and Francis instructing his sons to be “loving always” to Henry. However, Anne Boleyn was disappointed with the situation and you can find out more in this video that I did for my “on this day in Tudor history” series.

If you prefer reading to videos, then you can find out all the details in an article I wrote back in 2013 – click here – and if you prefer audio, you can listen to my podcast here.

If you like to get a daily Tudor fix, then please do subscribe to the Anne Boleyn Files and Tudor Society YouTube Channel or my podcast as I do daily “on this day” talks.

You can read The Maner of the tryumphe of Caleys and Bulleyn and The noble tryumphaunt coronacyon of Quene Anne, wyfe unto the most noble kynge Henry VIII online at https://archive.org/details/maneroftryumpheo00goldiala/page/n4

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6 thoughts on “21 October 1532 – Henry goes off to see Francis I, leaving Anne Boleyn behind”
  1. So by her rank the Duchess of Vendome was suitable enough to greet the King of Englands mistress and soon to be Queen consort, yet her moral’s definitely were not, I wonder what Henry and Anne thought, this was another slight to his darling by even proposing such a woman, but Anne maybe weary of the storm she had unwittingly provoked decided it were better to stay behind, she had the blessing of the King of France anyway, this does show how naive to a certain extent she had been in expecting everything to go smoothly for her, she had complained to Henry once bitterly how she had been waiting long for the anullment with all the impatience of a petulant child, obviously one can understand the frustration she had felt, but things did not happen overnight, as the saying goes, ‘Rome was not built in a day’, she could not have forseen either the vitriol she caused amongst the nobles and the common people to, who were supporters of Katherine, wether she had not wished to think about it but Francois’s wife was Katherines neice so that lady would certainly be incensed on her aunts behalf, so Henry went ofto meet his ‘dear’ friend and rival and Anne in the company of the nobility and attendants who had travelled with them both, was left languishing in Calais and no doubt tried to make light of the events amusing herself with her fool and dicing and gambling, it was merely another setback and slight amongst many she had endured over the past years, it was about this time she is said to have slept with the King finally giving him what he wanted after about six years, we can surmise that because in around a few months she was boasting she had a craving for apples, Henry was overjoyed and she could well have conceived the first time which proved how fertile she was, that really made the impending marriage much more urgent, meanwhile for now Anne waved her lover of no doubt cursing at the French queen and the Duchess of Alencon, for refusing to meet her and as Henry and Francois chatted and drunk into the early hours, of the morning one supposes, Anne amused herself with her ladies and men also drinking and chatting, there were probably a few snidey remarks about Eleanor and Marguerite, but Anne could satisfy herself that soon she would be higher than the duchess and on a rank level with the Queen of France.

  2. Oh how I love the formal protocols Kings and nobles addressed each other, even when they were enemies. Kings have always called each other brothers and so on, but Francis and Henry do appear to have had some esteem, even though they often complained about one another. I really love the description of this visit, it all sounds very grand. However, not everyone was happy and Anne certainly wasn’t having the fun she had hoped to; in fact, she was being left out and was insulted by Francis and his Queen. If Eleanor, his second wife and sister to Charles V refused to receive her as Henry’s future consort and his sister, who had known Anne years earlier refused, then a lady of sufficient rank had to be found to receive her. So he found a Duchess of sufficient rank but the Lady had a dodgy reputation. Oh great! Way to go Francis: insult the guest of honour and then she won’t come to the party! Anne remaining behind because she couldn’t be received in the state and with the ceremony she had been promised when the visit was first arranged was a real breach of protocols and another insult.

    All Henry could do was kiss his sweetheart and reassure her and go off with the entire Court to meet with King Francis. The brother monarchs made nice, greeting each other with wine, probably shared bread and salt, riding back for many banquets and entertainments. They spent three days together and the time was spent trying to solicit help with the cause of Henry’s divorce from Katherine of Aragon, Queen Eleanor’s Aunt, which was a good reason for Anne not to be there. Everything sounded very elaborate and the two Kings were relaxed in each others company and seem to have come to an accord.

    I doubt Anne was idle because when Francis came back with Henry she put on an exotic dance for them. She led in several ladies dressed in Oriental dress and with plumes in their hair and as in the scenes in the Tudors, they had masks on and danced for the King’s and their guests. They then took the young men, including King Francis and danced with them, before taking off their masks to reveal who they were. Anne must have spent her time back in Calais, on English territory, planning this wonderful and elaborate entertainment and Francis was totally delighted. Anne would spend time talking with him and charming him into giving his support. We will never know how she felt about being left in Calais or the insulting appointments of a lady of questionable morals to meet her, because Anne didn’t record her feelings and protocols forbade her being openly outraged. Besides she needed the support of Francis and making an open complaint would only have put that in jeopardy. Francis sympathized but his help wasn’t guaranteed by any stretch of the imagination: Henry and Anne had their work cut out.

    1. I bet the air was blue when Henry and Anne were alone together though, the masque must have been beautiful with the exotic oriental outfits the plumes and the masks, which always give the wearer an air of mystery because it renders them anonymous, Anne was probably dressed the most colourful with extra large plumes on her headdress, and I like to think Henry and Francois could tell who she was by her very grace and elegance, she shone like a bird of paradise, the French King had once referred rather disparagingly to Katherine as old and deformed, a nasty thing to say just because she was stout, due to the many pregnancies she had that had ruined her once lithe figure, Katherine could well have said something about him like a comment on his very immoral lifestyle, he could maybe understand as men do what Henry saw in Anne Boleyn, she probably possessed a sexual allure which is so much more powerful than mere good looks, comparing her to his first wife she appeared exciting and she was also intelligent, she could debate and spar with many learned men the most cleverest scholars in the kingdom, she could sing like a nightingale and dance elegantly and play the lute and the virginals also, an early Tudor instrument, so next to the long suffering Katherine of Aragon she must have seemed like a breath of fresh exciting air, she was also a Spaniard and the French and Spanish hated one another, so I can just see Francois secretly approving of Henrys choice of bride, his sister the Duchess of Alencon is a mystery, as Anne had been friends with her when she served at the French court, maybe after so many years absence and hearing about the havoc she was causing any affection Marguerite felt for her began to vanish, the snub must have angered Anne and of course Henry but this night when she entertained Francois and some of his officials, would have been a triumph.

  3. The biggest insult to Katherine of Aragon was that she had been commanded to hand over the Queens crowned jewellery, which were then refashioned for Anne Boleyn, for this trip and future appearances. Now we are not speaking of personal items of jewellery, those given to her as gifts, but official jewellery which Katherine wore on state occasions. Of course Katherine refused and stated she would not give up that which was hers by right in order to “adorn the neck of a woman who is the greatest scandal in all Christendom” . Yet, here she was being paraded around as if she was the future Queen of England, with high expectations of being treated as such. Francis of course was an obvious choice of ally as his enemies were Spain and the German speaking states but also he knew Anne personally. He had something against Katherine as she was Spanish but she was also Henry’s first wife and Francis had met Henry with Katherine on their first meeting in 1520. Now he had to decide where his own die was cast. Francis went with friendship and charm and Anne most probably won him around with her grace and tongue. She had served his first Queen, Claude, for seven years and was intelligent and witty, musical and she had a persuasive personality. Anne could win him over if Francis had any doubts at all.

    Yes, she would have been praised for this beautiful dance and it was indeed a very graceful and beautiful dance. Anne would certainly have stood out, as you say, she was a beautiful dancer according to what we know from the sources of her dat and it is almost certain that she would have ensured people knew who she was. I love the moment in the Tudors when one woman picks on Francis to dance and is silent and coy when he asks if he knew her. We know it’s Anne because we are looking back through her eyes and her mask gives us a tiny peek to see it is Anne. The dance ends, the men remove the masks of the ladies and now we see the lady most likely to be Anne is indeed her and everyone applauded. I thought it was brilliant and we can see how much Anne was independent and how influential she was on the people and events around her. Francis must have felt like putty in her hands as she gained from him an unequivocal promise of support for the annulment with the Pope.

    As to Marguerite, well she is difficult to explain because she had a relationship with Anne for a short period of time, she was well educated, intellectual, a published author, one of the most sophisticated women of her day, pro reform, although she remained Catholic and so Anne claimed her friend. So why not recognise her now? I suspect because she like so many of those who knew anything about Scripture, she knew it mostly condemned divorce and adultery. She possibly disapproved of Henry’s adultery with Anne who was still married to Queen Katherine and there is no direct evidence that Marguerite was a friend to Anne Boleyn, but a letter Anne wrote says she had strong affection for her mentor. Francis sister was more likely to have been her mentor and not her friend, given their age difference, although Anne may well have spent time in her service and shared her interests as well as her leanings towards reform. There is much we don’t know about Anne’s time in France, including who she met and unfortunately a lot of speculation has resulted. Marguerite had helped to free her brother from custody under the Emperor and Francis could well have had reservations about his sister meeting with Anne and if she disapproved of her being his mistress, then she chose to snub her former acquaintance. This is speculation, but people who don’t approve of someone and their lifestyle tend to avoid them as a way of shunning them. Henry and Anne might well have been travelling as a couple intending to marry, but everyone knew Henry and Katherine were still married, the reformers disapproved of the annulment and public recognition of their future marriage was hard to come by. France might be liberal, but not everyone was that liberal: moral standards still applied, especially on the subject of marriage and the attitude of the Papacy. Katherine of Aragon was widely respected at home and abroad, for all the crude remarks Francis made about her personally. The Papacy approved of her marriage to Henry, Anne was not Henry’s wife and the case was with Curia in Rome, still undecided. Francis was being brought on board to press Henry and Anne’s marriage and to get Papal support. It’s possible that Marguerite didn’t give her own support to such a scheme because of her own standards, her own beliefs or because she didn’t consider Anne as a suitable Queen. Remember Anne was only the daughter of a knight of the realm and a member of the gentry, she wasn’t a Princess. If Anne had been in her service, Marguerite may well see her in that light and simply snubbed her. Henry’s own sister, Mary also disapproved because Anne was also her service and she saw Anne as being below him. She was also devoted to Katherine of Aragon so her brother was committing an act of betrayal. Until Rome gave it’s approval, until Katherine and Henry were no longer married in the eyes of the law and the Church, as long as Anne was Henry’s mistress, devout women were not going to accept her.

  4. Well yes after all, it was the standards of the day, a woman who had been lady in waiting to a queen to take that queens place and effectively stand in her shoes? It was unthinkable more than likely it was that that the queen and Marguerite disapproved of, as Anne had not done anything personal to them but by accepting her it did go against their beliefs, Francois may have been a dissolute monarch and his court the most depraved in the world, yet protocol was evident in that decadent world like it was in England, one knew ones place they did not overstep the mark, Marguerite obviously had an admirer in Anne, unusual because Anne was not really close to many women except her mother, she had a close friendship with Lady Worcester who sadly betrayed her, though unintentionally and she possibly enjoyed some kind of friendship with Jane Rochford her sister in law, Anne admired Marguerite for sharing her many talents I believe, they were very similar both educated interested in reform, both learned cultured women, but it was not fair on her being the kings sister or his queen to expect them to personally receive Anne, as she was the scandal of Christendom, never mind that many at court were indulging in love affairs never mind the king himself did, the high moral code had to be adhered to.

    1. Forgot to mention Margaret Lady Lee, she had been Annes childhood friend and it was to her Anne allegedly gave her little prayer book to on the scaffold.

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