21 October 1532 – Henry VIII left Anne Boleyn in Calais while he met with Francis I

Francis I and Henry VIII
Francis I and Henry VIII

On Monday 21st October 1532, according to Edward Hall’s Chronicle and Wynkyn de Worde’s The Maner of the tryumphe of Caleys and Bulleyn, Henry VIII left Anne Boleyn in Calais to spend four days with Francis I, “his beloved brother”, at the French court in Boulogne.

Hall describes how Henry was “accompaignied with the Dukes of Norffolke and Suffolke, and with the Marquesses of Dorcet and Excester, the Erles of Arundell, Oxford, Surrey, Essex, Derby, Rutlande, Huntyngdon, and Sussex, and diuerse Viscountes, Barons, Knightes of the Garter, and Gentlemen, freshely appareled, and richly trimmed”1 and Wynkyn de Worde2 adds that there were seven score men accompanying the King, all dressed in velvet coats. The two kings met at Sandingfield, as arranged. Hall describes how Henry VIII was wearing a “cote of great riches, in braides of golde laied lose on Russet Veluet, and set with Traifoyles, full of pearle and stone”, while Francis I wore “a coate of crimosin veluet, all to cut, lined with slender cloth of gold plucked out through the cuttes.”3 The Kings embraced and after drinking each other’s health they processed on to Boulogne.

When the Kings had got within a mile of Boulogne, they were met by Francis I’s three sons (the Dauphin, the Duke of Orléans and the Duke of Angoulême), the Admiral of France and three cardinals (Wynkyn de Worde says four). Francis I said to his sons, “My children, I am your father, but to this Prince here you are as much bound, as to me your
naturall father, for he redemed me and you from captivitie: wherfore on my blessyng I charge you to be to hym louyng alwaies.”4 Henry VIII then embraced the three princes. As the party arrived at Calais, there was “a greate shot of Artilery” which, apparently, could be heard twenty miles away.

When Henry and Anne’s trip to Calais had first been planned, Anne had wanted to attend the meeting at the French court in Boulogne as Henry’s consort. She had hoped that she would be treated as Queen and that she would at least meet Francis’ sister, Marguerite of Angoulême, if Francis’ wife, Eleanor, who was a niece of Catherine of Aragon, would not attend. However, Francis I did not want his sister to be compromised in any way by meeting a woman who was seen as the King of England’s mistress, so he suggested the attendance of the Duchess of Vendôme, a woman of “regrettable reputation and light morals who therefore had no dignity left to preserve.”5 When Anne heard this, she made the decision to stay behind in Calais and then meet with Francis I when he travelled back with Henry on 25th October.

As I said in my post about Anne and Henry setting sail, the main purpose of this trip was for Henry and Anne to gain Francis I’s public recognition and approval of their relationship. Henry wanted Francis to then meet with the Pope and push the case for the annulment of Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon.

Notes and Sources

  1. Hall’s Chronicle, Edward Hall, printed for J. Johnson in London (1809), p790
  2. 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, Wynkyn de Worde, edited by Edmund Goldsmid (1884), p8
  3. Hall, p791
  4. Ibid.
  5. Two Gentleman Poets at the Court of Henry VIII, Edmond Bapst, translated into English by J.A. Macfarlane, translated and edited by Claire Ridgway (2013)

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5 thoughts on “21 October 1532 – Henry VIII left Anne Boleyn in Calais while he met with Francis I”
  1. One can’t help but think that Anne would have been hurt by Francis offering the attendance of a woman with such a bad reputation. Anne and Henry had to be a little disheartened, I mean after all, the whole purpose of this meeting was to get Francis to recognise Anne as future Queen of England. Yet Francis, first off the bat didn’t even want his sister associated with her…

  2. That’s so sad in. All levels I guess he had he’s own opinion of henry’s wife to bad later she would be beheaded and Elizabeth I left motherless kind regards maritzal

  3. Ladie, really! When you think about the careful preparation and the assurances that Anne would be received by the ladies and all the court with dignity and honour this must have been a grit the teeth and smile moment. Poor Anne, expecting to be received as the future consort of the King of England and treated almost as a seond class person. And to bring the Duchess with a dodgy reputation to meet her as the sister and wife of Francis had refused to do so; that is terrible. As a newly elevated noblewoman and as the betrothed or intended wife of Henry VIII she should have been met by ladies of sufficient honour and rank to match her own. Eleanor, it is clear could not meet her as the sister of the Emperor; it would not be appropriate to meet the lady when her brother disapproved of her and Henry was technically still married to Catherine of Aragon her royal sister in law. (Again think I have the relationships correct)

    Marguarite was an equal in intellect to Anne and she must have been disappointed to not be presented to her. Did she know this lady? Sorry cannot remember without consulting. My grandmother’s anniversary today so not on the ball brainwise for memory. But in any event: M certainly had decided that she did not approve of Anne and refused to receive her in this formal setting. With no lady of rank to receive her Anne could not attend and she obviously did not approve of this other lady, so that is that as they say. The whole visit must have been turning into something less than the grand affair they had all planned. Just the same the King had a good time and was received with honour but this slight to Anne would have been seen as a great insult. It shows the upbringing and character that Anne stayed behind and was tactful and that the visit went ahead without insults and so on. A grit your teeth and smile day for all concerned I am sure.

    But for Anne I think what made up for this difficult moment was when Henry returned to Calais and the party was delayed in going home for a time. The few days alone with him and the moment that they are generally believed to have cemented their alliance and conceived the future Elizabeth I must have been wonderful and loving and I am convinced made up for all the disappointment of all that silly ceremonial in any event. Insult forgotten? May-be, but Francis was also to disappoint the party further months later by not promoting the marriage of Henry and Anne to His Holiness the Pope and by being able to recognise their marriage while the Pope did not and while Henry was considered still married to Catherine. In other words as a true political leader, his promises were hollow. Never mind; the time in Calais I guess made up for it all and where the happiest time that they had, certainly for the next three years. If only they could have kept that loving time: well that is life.

  4. It hadn’t occurred to me before this that the timing of Anne Boleyn playing her trump card of finally being intimate with Henry VIII happened after this slight to her. Now her timing makes complete sense to me.

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