27 October 1532 – Anne Boleyn makes her entrance

Oct27,2017 #1532 trip to Calais

On this day in history, Sunday 27th October 1532, Henry VIII and Francis I, the Kings of England and France, dined together at a special “great banquet” in Calais. 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 – wow!

The feast was followed by a masque; it was time for Henry VIII’s sweetheart to make her entrance. In The Maner of the tryumphe of Caleys and Bulleyn, a contemporary source printed in 1532/3 by Wynkyn de Worde, it gives the following account:

“And after souper there came in a maske my lady marques of Penbroke [Anne Boleyn} my lady Mary [Carey] my lady Darby my lady Fitzwater my lady Rocheford my lady Lislie and my lady Wallop gorgyously apparayled with visers on theyr faces and so came and toke the frensshe kynge by the hande and other lordes of Fraunce and daunced a daunce or two. And after that the kynge toke of theyr visers and than they daunced with gentylmen of Fraunce an houre after.”

Edward Hall describes what the ladies were wearing:

“After supper came in the Marchiones of Penbroke, with. vii. ladies in Maskyng apparel, of straunge fashion, made of clothe of gold, compassed with Crimosyn Tinsell Satin, owned with Clothe of Siluer, liyng lose[loose] and knit with laces of Gold: these ladies were brought into the chamber, with foure damoselles appareled in Crimosin satlyn[satin], with Tabardes of fine Cipres[cypress lawn] […]”

Hall also describes how the room was lavishly decorated with cloth of tissue, cloth of silver, gold wreaths decorated with stones and pearls, and candelabra. It also had a cupboard stacked high with gold plate. He notes “To tell the riches of the clothes of estates, the basens & other vessels which was there occupied, I assure you my wit is in sufficient.” It sounds like an amazing spectacle.

Hall goes on to say that Anne danced with Francis I, the Countess of Derby danced with the King of Navarre, and the other ladies each took a lord. Then Henry VIII removed the ladies’ visors to show off their beauty. The French king then conversed with Anne Boleyn before retiring to his lodgings, escorted by Henry VIII. Hall notes that the Duke of Norfolk entertained the nobles of France “with many goodly sportes and pastymes.”

Click here to view a timeline of the events of October 1532 and to read more about Henry and Anne’s visit to Calais.

Notes and Sources

  • Hall, Edward (1809) 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, p.792-793.
  • ed. Goldsmid, Edmund (1884) 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 (1532-3), p.14.

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12 thoughts on “27 October 1532 – Anne Boleyn makes her entrance”
  1. Wow, what an Impressive event. The largest motion picture budget could not portray something like this because no one today thinks on this large of a scale. I can’t imagine how Anne must’ve felt at that moment. Her future was looking to be an exceptional one.

    I do have a question: in the list of English ladies in attendance at the maske is a ‘Lady Wallop’. I don’t recognize that name.

  2. Norfolk took part in the fun, entertaining the French lords? That’s an unexpected story for me to read, I have always seen him as Anne’s nasty, grumpy uncle who hated her despite being one of the poeple who benefited with her rise to power. For Anne, this must have been a great moment of triumph.
    On the other side I wonder what would have crossed the mind of Francis I and Mary Boleyn when they encountered all those years again. I know the Bishop of Faenza document (where Francis calls her “Infamous wh*re” and a story of Anne having that deformed phoetus miscarriage) isn’t 100% reliable (now we all know the phoetus wasn’t deformed), but who knows, it could be that Francis (who was a womanizer, but usually was kind to women) did say those words about Mary once and in 1536 the Bishop remembered them while writing this “deformed phoetus” story and say “Hey, let’s pretend Mary was there so I can say what King Francis said years ago about her”

    1. Urrutea, yes you are quite correct Norfolk is often shown as Mr Grumpy, but like most people he was complex and far more important as he was the highest peer in the land and the uncle of the future Queen. We know that Suffolk didn’t want to be in France as Henry had to pay him and Mary, his wife a visit to shall we say persuade him to pack and do his duty. Mary, Henry’s sister, Suffolk’s wife was excused as she was ill and refused to budge. Norfolk is reported in an obscure tale as being unhappy with the fact Anne was going to marry the King, but accepted it as there was nothing he could do about it. As high peers of the realm it was the job of Suffolk and Norfolk and others to entertain important guests as representatives of the English King, in this case the King of France. Whatever their personal feelings they did their duty and they appear to have enjoyed themselves and were well awarded with the Order of the Golden Fleece, which is the highest honour in France. It is like being a Knight of the Garter, very selective. Norfolk was very pragmatic and he must have still felt some secret pride in his niece and his roles in France. The premier Dukes took the key roles at Anne’s coronation and the baptism of Elizabeth was attended by the old Dowager Duchess, who had no love for Anne Boleyn. I think you put on your best clothes, put your party face on and got on with what was a duty and a great honour. I would have said yes, for all that rich food and drink and I certainly wouldn’t want the consequences even if I had a good excuse to refuse.

      May I ask about the source you quote regarding the deformed foetus, as in 1536 all contemporary sources confirm that Anne lost a child about three or four months old and it appeared to be male and that Henry and Anne were deeply distressed. There is nothing about the foetus being deformed until Nicholas Sander written in exile many decades later.

      I agree with you that King Francis probably had a lot of mixed feelings here, although he seems to have merely wished Anne and Henry well and been gracious and supportive. Other than his grossly exaggerated remarks above there is no evidence to support the idea that either Anne Boleyn or her sister were his mistress. It is on these remarks that the reputation of Mary was damaged but it is not evidence that she was his mistress. At best she may have been lurred or charmed into his bed once or twice and then only slept with her husband and Henry Viii. Francis I was a rake and had many women, although he treated his first wife well. There is nothing to support later gossip that Anne slept with anyone in France, as this is a report when Henry wanted to end his marriage. Sanders was writing with an agenda to undermine the legitimacy of Elizabeth I in defence of his persecuted compatriots. He had good reason to undermine her and to attack her mother who did get a poor reputation, partly because of factions loyal to Queen Katherine and Princess Mary and partly because of the inescapable charges against her. We know the accusations against Anne Boleyn are false. because they make no sense. However, although even Chapuys wrote he believed the charges were false, many believed them. They came down to the next generation and were used to blacken Anne’s name. Although she was never charged with witchcraft why not add a thing or two to make her sound even worse? We have to remember that Nicholas Sander is writing many decades later and has reasons to exaggerate.

      1. How true, the pen is mightier than the sword and it is always easy to slander a person when they are dead and cannot defend themselves, people loyal to Katherine and Mary (Catholics ) wanted to believe the worst of her whom they believed wrecked the true religion in England, Annes uncle Norfolk has got a reputation for being gloomy and a bit of a control freak, his painting shows a morose looking man, utterly charmless yet Lacey Baldwin Smith tells us he was known to be affable in company and it portrayed quite wrongly in television and films, where he is shown telling Anne how to behave to the King etc, we know she argued with him but then she did with so many, as Earl Marshal Of England he had many duties to perform and yes he was bound to be one of the chief representatives at the coronations of the monarch and his sons and daughters, I think he was proud to be related to Anne the new queen to be as it gave his high status even more power and trust Anne to make a dramatic entrance, masked balls are wonderful but now they appear to have gone out of fashion, she must have cut a stylish figure and Francois must have enjoyed the event, his approval was sought after as her and Henry both wanted Annes recognition and acceptance by the French king, he had known her in France and she had spent most of her childhood there, we can presume she may have found it one of the happiest times of her life and she was a Francophile, the French court had helped to mould her into the woman she became, though at times these two kings were enemies as well as friends when they were allies they were amiable with each other, the gift of a diamond was a mark of support from Francois to the couple who had caused scandal in Rome and the rest of Europe, they had upset Spain so they needed France Spain’s enemy as an ally, for now although she had not been welcomed at the French court, she was entertaining it’s King and how she must have loved lording it over everyone.

        1. To add to your comments about slander I think one of the things that add to the perception of Norfolk being mister grumpy is be this true or not when you read accounts of him from various authors you come away with the feeling that he would throw his own mother under the bus to protect himself. I don’t know if this is a modern reading of his personality or if it goes back to his era. If you look at paintings of various men during the Tudor era many don’t have smiles on their faces and Holbien’s portrait of Norfolk is no different. Pretend you don’t know who he is and he looks like anybody else but as soon as you know who it is you see a grumpy. I know I react that way.

      2. Hi Banditqueen. 1st of all let me explain myself, for I have made a great mistake. I wrongly thought the 1st person to tell the deformed phoetus untrue story was the Bishop of Faenza in his letter of 1536, but, as you say, it was Sander during Elizabeth I’s reign. After years and years having read about Anne, something happened in my brain and I associated the letter of this Bishop with the deformed phoetus myth, but this story was not my point, I just wanted to cite Faenza because he’s the only person who suggest there was some kind of relationship between Francis I and Mary Boleyn.
        What the Bishop of Faenza says in his 1536 letter is 3 ideas he says the French King told him: 1) that Anne Boleyn faked a miscarriage after having pretended being pregnant. 2) That her sister Mary was helping her in this farce. 3) that Francis called Mary “una grandisima ribalda, infame supre tuta” (a great wh*re, infamous above all). I think the first 2 ideas are false, but what if Francis did say these harsh words about Mary and the Bishop of Faenza remembered them while writing in March 1536? Centuries later it was suggested that Mary slept with Francis I, this we’ll never know, but I think we’ve got strong reasons to believe that by 1536 Francis had his own opinion about Mary, and it wasn’t a good one. Why? We’ll never know: perhaps she never slept with him, and that’s why Francis, a notorious womanizer and admirer of women, hated her; perhaps she refused his advances and later Francis heard she had slept with Henry VIII and got furious (do not we forget about these 2 kings’ rivalry); perhaps she was once rude to him, or she was involved in a minor altercation/dispute during her brief time at the French Court. We don’t know why, but it’s highly possible that Francis I didn’t like Mary… So it must have been interesting when he met with her again in 1533.

        PD: I’m sorry for having linked wrongly Faenza with the deformed phoetus, thus bringing up the subject of Sander and his propaganda (which was not my intention). As many of you, I think Sander’s writings are just horrible lies to blacken Anne’s name and legacy. I don’t believe the phoetus was deformed, and I hate the idea he has that Anne slept around during her time in France. It has no sense, Queen Claude was very concerned with the reputation of her ladies, and Anne Boleyn was a virtuous & intelligent woman!

        1. Mary Boleyn has often been portrayed as sexually promiscuous but there really was never any evidence to suggest she was anything other than any other high born lady who served at both the French and English courts and who may or may not have indulged in a light love affair with the odd man or two, her name has been linked with the French King and wether or not Francois did actually call her an infamous wh*re is open to debate, he could have been referring to her willingness to indulge in unusual sexual practices which an experienced lover like himself would have taken delight in, (that is if she did actually sleep with him) he could have been a bit tipsy and started to boast about his many conquests and Marys name came up, maybe she did sleep with him and he could have been the first man she lost her virginity to, but that one act does not make her a wh*re, being so young and no doubt overawed by the King taking an interest in her she possibly found it difficult to say no to him, you did not want to offend the King and maybe had she done so she could have found herself dismissed from court and on her way back to England, I feel Mary has had a bad press really, she was not linked to any other man and when she arrived in England married respectably, she did have an affair with King Henry but two love affairs does not make a woman a wh*re, Agnes Strickland describes her as having a penchant for indulging in love affairs but her behaviour does not bear this out, she was widowed young and had to support two young children and was in financial difficulty for some time, some years later she fell in love with William Stafford a minor courtier but she married him and was faithful, had she been little more than a tramp there would have been more men associated with her but there wasn’t, she was not bed hopping all over the place, and I believe after her sister was executed for the most contemptible crimes imaginable Marys name was further blackened to make Annes crimes more plausible.

  3. This scene is well captured in the Tudors, the elaborate costumes, the graceful movement. the sexy smells and aroma and alluring looks, the mystery, the entire thing keeps you on edge. You suspect this is Anne dancing, but we don’t know until that moment and the mask is off and yes, the lady is revealed to an amazed and delighted King Francis. The music, rich dishes, a wonderful scene. Bravo!

  4. Something I wish we could do is forget everything we have ever read, heard, saw on television or the internet from the last four and a half centuries and experience as those at the time experienced this magnificent feast and maske. I would however not wish to live in that period of history.

    1. Me neither, it would be great to see it enact before our eyes but not actually be there, we would find it a shock I would imagine, the clothes they wore were brilliant yet they must have stunk as they were not that fussed with laundry and what with body odour to, their teeth were not cleaned properly like ours today having no toothpaste or floss merely wooden picks, and their hair quite possibly harboured nits and even fleas, they way they pronounced the words was different also therefore we may not quite understand what they were talking about, there were no roads just mud tracks and country lanes, it took days to travel from one county to another, no form of communication except by letter writing, and they had absolutely no knowledge of medical matters and their very thoughts and actions, indeed their very lives was governed by the superstions and strange beliefs of the age..

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