Anne Boleyn’s Coronation Day 1 – 29 May 1533 – A fire-breathing dragon, monsters, wild men, and a queen

Posted By on May 29, 2020

On this day in Tudor history, 29th May 1533, just a day after the marriage of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn had been proclaimed valid, the celebrations for Queen Anne Boleyn’s coronation began in earnest.

This is one of those days that, if I had the Tardis or Doc’s DeLorean, I would definitely visit.

Why? Well, the coronation celebrations kicked off with a spectacular pageant on the River Thames in London. This procession of over 300 barges carried a fire-breathing dragon, monsters, wild men, musicians, and, of course, the queen: Anne Boleyn. It must have been such a wonderful sight for the citizens of London.

Find out more in this video:

If you prefer reading over videos, you can read my article on this day here.

Also on this day in history, on 29th May 1593, Welsh religious controversialist, and a man regarded by Welsh historians as the pioneer of Welsh nonconformity, John Penry was hanged at St Thomas-a-Watering in Surrey. Find out more in this video:

11 thoughts on “Anne Boleyn’s Coronation Day 1 – 29 May 1533 – A fire-breathing dragon, monsters, wild men, and a queen”

  1. Michael Wright says:

    I would definitely like to go back in time and see this, it sounds amazing but I would also like witness some of the happenings on the side like Anne’s fool chastising the onlookers for not showing due respect and to see Anne’s reaction to the lack of enthusiasm for her. Wasn’t there an incident involving the preparation of the barges for this where workman were removing the badges of KofA and they were told to stop by Henry? Can’t remember where I saw that or if I made it up in my head.

    1. Christine says:

      I read about that Michael, I think Anne demanded the use of Katherines barge and they were about to strip of her arms but then the king intervened and forbade it, maybe he felt some remorse but another barge was found for Anne.

      1. Michael Wright says:

        Thank you Christine.

  2. Banditqueen says:

    Not being funny, but when reading the events all at one go, of May it’s almost as if one minute Henry is crowning Anne, the next he is having her tried and executed and tomorrow he will marry Jane Seymour. I know there is three years between all of those events but its really weird having just had a day by day countdown to the fall and death of Queen Anne ten days ago and now its back to the beginning. I would have loved to see the wonderful tableaux and the decorations and the processing. Such an event. It was very hot, though and the Queen was heavily pregnant. Hopefully the robes were light and loose.

    1. Michael Wright says:

      I know exactly what you mean. Wen I started reading this my thought was ‘didn’t he just have her killed a few days ago’? On a more serious tone 3 yrs is not very long especially when you look at how hard and how long he fought for her.

    2. Christine says:

      Norah Lofts says in her biography that Anne was having an easy pregnancy, but I read another book which says it had been rather difficult, but she certainly appeared well during her water pageant and at her coronation, and then she had had to stand for quite a length of time which couldn’t have been easy.

  3. Christine says:

    How I wish some artist had captured this colourful and spectacular event in oils, it must have taken months of preparation possibly a whole year and to see the colourful barges and the monsters, were they from Roman or Greek mythology probably, and the fire breathing dragon, the music of the minstrels must have wafted up the Thames and the sound of the gun salutes, it must have made many a Londoner turn their noses up at the usurper queen but curiosity would have got the better of them, especially the children and younger folk, and there would have been crowds coming down to the banks of the Thames to watch and there must have been admiration in their hearts, even though Anne was not popular, it is sad indeed as Michael and Bq mentions, that three years later Anne was to make a very different journey to the Tower, May was a month both of triumph and then tragedy for her, and during her fall she must have thought back bitterly to these great days of celebration when the king had loved her and feted her, she was about six months pregnant and must have began to tire easy but she still had the coronation day to get through, the day was possibly warm and dry and sunny as there are no records that say the rain (the bane of England) ruined it, it appears to have gone incredibly well, even today the Thames still has water processions, with colourful barges and banners, the last one I believe was in honour of the queen but I cannot recall what it was for, Anne arrived at the Tower and she must have been so excited and happy she was pregnant with what she and Henry were sure was a son, had not the soothsayers predicted a prince? She was met by her adoring husband and was able to rest and dine in her luxurious apartments, tomorrow she would be crowned queen, her long awaited desire, which had lasted seven years was about to become true.

    1. Banditqueen says:

      Does anyone remember the river pageant that we had for the Queen ‘s 60th Regnant years on the Thames a few years ago? Anne’s river pageant would have been similar. There were a lot of little boats all decorated, then a reconstruction of a 300 year barge and the Queen was on a modern boat decorated with gold and pageant beasts and it was beautiful. Normally an important person travelling to the Tower or a palace or posh house on the Thames travelled in a covered barge for privacy and of course some people had private barges and their own crew. Yes, the badge story is apparently true. Henry had left the badges on them HR on his own KR or whatever on hers and even KH because they obviously had only been used for him and Katherine and like so many things, nobody had thought to change them. The initials were probably very difficult to chisel out and replace and of course nobody did anything without the orders from the top. Royal protocols and traditions could go on unchanged for a number of years, until someone gave new orders. A funny tradition went on in the Buckingham Palace when Victoria and Albert moved in from when it had been Buckingham House. Every night a dinner was laid out for George iii who had died almost two decades earlier. Nobody knew why. The orders had never been charged. Katherine’s initials were still on the Queens barge because they hadn’t been used for some time, since Katherine departed probably. Anne wanted to use the old Queens barge, rather than a new one and simply changed the badges. I don’t know whether Henry wanted them left alone but some kind of argument ensued and the badges were removed. The barges must have been in very good condition still, obviously freshly painted and decorated and fitted out with cushions and covered but I can just imagine the arguments over the badges. Let’s face it, this occasion was spectacular. It cost an absolute fortune. Really, one would think Henry would make sure every little detail was taken care off, including the badges on the barges. What a carry on!

      I heard something recently as well that the latter stages of Anne’s pregnancy was difficult but I don’t know what the sources were. She appeared radiant and well during her coronation but still it must have been very exhausting. Even without an unborn child, it would have lasted for hours, there were three or four days to get through, it was very hot. One day there was a long walking procession through the streets of London for miles on foot, her feet must have been hot, having to be bear footed at the Abbey must have been a blessing the following day. My feet are hot and swollen now and I am not even pregnant lol.

      A painting would have been very beautiful. I think there are some sketches of some of the tableaux and there is of the table plan in Westminster Hall where the coronation banquet was. There is a very rough sketch of what is meant to be Anne, more like a child’s rough drawing, but it’s very cute. Edward Hall gives us a detailed description as Anne came to her waiting husband at the Tower of London who greeted his wife with enthusiasm and much affection and of boats carrying dragons and monsters and men playing music. A long but wonderful start to her coronation party.

      1. Christine says:

        I remember the queens celebrations it looked lovely on the Thames, that’s the one I was trying to think of, Anne’s would have been similar however the next day was going to be an ordeal, but she was to carry it of marvellously, I agree it must have been lovely to go barefoot at Westminster Abbey, the stone floor would have been cool against her swollen feet.

        1. Michael Wright says:

          This is a little off topic but I wonder what the Thames was like at that time. I bring this up because of something I read a while back. If you’ve seen pics of Niagara Falls on the border of the Eastern United States and Canada, the view you usually see is from the Canadian side. Anyway, beautiful and a tremendous amount of water flowing over. What I read was that what we see today is only 1/100th of what it was before controls such at dams etc were built on the Niagra River. 3000 miles to the West isbPortland Oregon (where I am) is the Columbia River which is the border between Oregon and Washington to the north. In the 1840’s/50’s Ulysses Grant was stationed at Fort Vancouver which is just across the Columbia from me. In his memoirs he printed letters to his wife complaining about after a hard rain, which was/is fairly common the Columbia would overflow it’s banks washing out crops and other damage. He hated it here. His observations of the Columbia River have not been seen by anyone currently alive unless they’re very old because we’ve had controls on the Snake and Columbia rivers for many decades.Hence my curiosity about the Thames during this time in 1533.

  4. Christine says:

    I too have often wondered what the Thames and in fact London looked like in the days of the Tudors, there were plenty of houses timbered which were the dwellings of the more well to do, there were cobbled alleys and clusters of taverns and houses with diamond pained windows but I think the poor classes mostly lived in hovels, there were lovely houses with gardens running down to the banks of the Thames and in one of these Jane Seymour resided in when Anne was preparing for her execution, there is a picture painted of Queen Elizabeth I believe in her carriage as she was going around the city and there were many buildings and tall trees in the distance, the suburbs around London were still quite rural in fact where I live which is about eleven miles miles from the city, in the 16th century deer abounded and the area was just woodland and fields, London had its poor side as well as its richer side, like now and many cities are the same, but for the most people just used to throw their rubbish out the windows into the streets so it was a case of duck and dive, it was filthy and germs abounded which of course was why the plague was so virulent, there were no proper sanitation and many people used to stuff little posies in to their noses to ward of the stench, called quite aptly nosegays, but the Thames was always very busy as it was a central port and there were many ships and barges there, I have seen old maps of the Thames and it looks quite similar to today but of course if we were able to go back in time, we possibly would find it looking totally different, in fact it probably would look much larger without the tall steel buildings dominating the landscape today.

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