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27 October 1532 – A gorgeously apparelled Anne Boleyn makes her entrance

Posted By on October 27, 2018

On this day in history, Sunday 27th October 1532, in Calais, which was an English territory at the time, King Henry VIII hosted a lavish “great banquet” for Francis I, King of France.

Henry VIII and his sweetheart, Anne Boleyn Marquess of Pembroke, had travelled to Calais to gain Francis’ public recognition and approval of their relationship, and his support for the annulment of Henry’s marriage to his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Henry had already spent a few days at the French court with Francis, now it was his turn to play host.

Chronicler Edward Hall records that “The French kyng was serued iii. courses, & his meat dressed after the French fashion, & the kyng of England had like courses after thenglishe fashion, the first course of euery kyng was. xl. dishes, the second. lx. the third. lxx. which wer costly & plesant.” So, the first course “of every king” was 40 dishes, the second 60 dishes and the third 70 dishes!

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Picture: Natalie Dormer as the masqued Anne Boleyn in this scene in “The Tudors” series.

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5 thoughts on “27 October 1532 – A gorgeously apparelled Anne Boleyn makes her entrance”

  1. Michael Wright says:

    The amount of food served is almost incomprehensible. There had to be a lot left after the festivities. What was done with it? Tossed or meted out to the staff and poor? Fed to the animals? Just curious.

  2. Banditqueen says:

    Hi Michael, yes, most left over food was sent to the poor, as part of the need to show charity. The banquets did indeed contain large amounts of food as they fed a lot of people. They were all about show and grandeur and look at my wealth. However, the idea wasn’t to serve mountains of food, but a wide choice of food and you took a small amount of all of the dishes present, from the ones you wanted. Each course consisted of a number of dishes, soup and pastries. You had to have very good manners, no swearing, no burping, no smelly noises, no elbows on the table, no rude or lewd joking and talk, no slurping, no speaking with a full mouth, no spilling food, no dribbling, no spitting, and so on. They definitely didn’t throw the bones to the dogs. You were also meant to drink with restraint at table. Having said that they drank spiced wine and ale, not water. They used water from a fresh source with roses to wash their hands and don’t have folks which are Italian, but a knife and a spoon. Nothing was actually wasted.

    This scene with the beautiful costumes and dancers was my favourite part of the Tudors. This is a wonderful scene. The ladies enter, masked and dance, then choose a gentleman, Anne choices the King of France who is enchanted and then the ladies are revealed. This is a fun and lovely scene and it must have been impressive. Anne was a graceful and accomplished dancer and I would guess had something to do with the choreography of this entertainment. Henry loved a show and no doubt Francis did as well and both Kings were Renaissance Monarchs, especially the latter and they were very competitive. I am confident Francis enjoyed this very much.

    The entire visit to France in 1532_was to gain the support of France for the future marriage of Henry Viii and Anne Boleyn. Henry was not an idiot, he knew he would need the support of another monarch if he openly defied the Pope. He still hoped that Francis may persuade Clement to rule in his favour or at least give a nod in his direction. What Francis didn’t know was that Henry actually planned to marry Anne on his return to England, regardless of the decision from Rome and then act on his own initiative if that decision went against him. Francis made a promise to help but was not able to endorse Henry after his break with Rome. He sent presents instead.

    Anne and Henry consecrated their union in France and consummated it, probably more than once. We are told also that they had a wedding or rather a promissory ceremony on their return home. Officially Henry and Anne were married somewhere in the palace of Whitehall (York Place) on 25th January 1533 because she was pregnant and he could wait no longer. However, as far as Clement was concerned he had jumped the gun as he decided in favour of Katherine and gave Henry five months to return to her. It was too late as Thomas Cranmer had been made Archbishop of Canterbury, confirmed by the Pope, ironically, declared the marriage of Henry and Katherine void and that of Henry and Anne lawful. If anyone is confused at this point, don’t worry, so were the majority of people at the time, no doubt. Henry could now proceed with the crowning of Anne in Westminster Abbey and what he hoped would be the public birth of his son and heir. He also proceeded with the legislation to make him Head of the Church in England and to make it high treason to speak, think, write or say anything against his new marriage or his heirs with Anne. He completed his break from Rome.

    1. Michael Wright says:

      Thank you for the clarification on the food.

  3. Christine says:

    It rather reminds me of a Venetian carnival a swirling profusion of colour and glamour, nothing makes a person look more enigmatic than a mask, the allure of the eyes and the downward sweep of the lashes behind a beautiful mask of black and gold, so hearts are lost and promises often false are made, Anne must have made sure she outshone her ladies and she must have appeared like a glittering enchantress amongst the guests, the description of the gowns she and her ladies wore sounds exquisite, and she must have dazzled with jewels, Henry must have been so proud of her and this sumptuous celebration was in honour of the King of France so nothing was spared, important politic manoeuvrings are often discussed over the banqueting table and this was designed to get Francis firmly on the King of Englands and Anne side as their quest for the long awaited divorce dragged on, these kings like many kings before and since did not care much for each other and no doubt would deride each other in private, but their friendship was important when they needed an ally and France’s King was needed now, Henry had angered Spain so he needed France, and so sycophantic talk was made over the winking candelight and the feast was a great success, Anne had known Francis when she had served his queen years before and she had a real love of that sophisticated country, it was where she had spent her formative years and it’s polish had rubbed of on her, no doubt she still missed its cuisine and maybe the enchanting Loire valley and it was noted she talked with Francis for some time, years before Francis had been dismissive of Queen Katherine describing her as old and deformed simply because she had grown rather stout, I have a feeling he understood Henrys passion for this woman who was so different from her, taller by several inches and slender, a dusky siren who possessed elegance and wit and that elusive quality which draws the eye and back again, Anne could speak French and so they conversed easily, the feasts were gargantuan but as Bq mentions it was merely to pick and savour from, one was not expected to consume the fare whole, many different servings were there and so they were spoilt for choice, since it was nearly the end of October pheasant would have been on the table along with the duck and other delicacies, one can imagine it all, no wonder the saying ‘ a dish fit for kings’ came about, and imagine the wine cellars to, but I feel so sorry for Katherine who was aware her husband was in Calais flaunting his mistress all for the purpose of gaining the French kings support in his quest to discard her, how many bitter tears did she shed for Annes triumph was her downfall and it was to be only a matter of months before Anne became his queen in fact.

    1. Banditqueen says:

      Katherine would have really been feeling upset, I guess and a number of Henry’s courtiers were almost certainly in sympathy with their true Queen as they had known her. Anne was an attractive presence, she clearly made the King happy and he wanted her as soon as it could be arranged because she was the woman he believed would give him sons and he loved and desired her. Anne was a force of nature, as was the King, but Katherine was a cut above, the daughter and granddaughter of Kings, several times over, a descendent of the old House of Lancaster from before Henry’s ancestors and she was Henry’s Queen, whether he admitted it or not. Henry Viii and Katherine of Aragon had gone through a joint coronation, very rare as a King was often crowned long before his marriage, yet it was the second in 26 years. Richard iii and Anne Neville had a joint coronation in 1483. The previous two Kings to have a joint coronation were Edward I and Edward ii. Henry had been determined to marry Katherine and they were a loyal and loving couple and Henry was her knight in shining armour. He loved to surprise her as Robin Hood, with Thomas Boleyn as one of his merry men, he dressed up as a stranger knight, he expressed his contentment with Katherine in letters to his father in law and he wouldn’t have left her but for his desire for a son.

      Anne and Katherine had some things in common such as a good education and intellectual prowess. Katherine would have been better educated, but Anne had still learned from some of the most sophisticated noble and royal women of her day, including Marguerite, sister of Francis I. She had served Queen Claude. She had also served Katherine and probably learned a trick or two from her as well. Both women were strong minded, loved entertainment, were well dressed and were stubborn. Henry had many of the same qualities and it is little wonder they actually found a solution to his annulment crisis with three minds fighting for a superior will.

      Only Anne could make a brilliant impression on the King of France as she had done while at his Court before. The dance was oriental, beautiful, sexual, exotic, alluring, an array of beautiful ladies in silver and golden dresses, eyes alone peering from masks of gold, giving even more mystery to the dance and the people on that musical floor. Francis loved a beautiful woman, even more than Henry and even if Anne was not a conventional beauty, she had sexual magnetism and allure which captivated most men that she met. She knew how to play coy and she knew how to flirt in order to achieve a personal or political end. Anne was able to persuade Francis to help and he was well and truly hooked. Things didn’t turn out as Henry and Anne hoped but for now promises galore flowed along with sweet spiced wines and a right Royal fayre.

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