31 May 1533 – The Coronation Procession of Queen Anne Boleyn

Posted By on May 31, 2013

At 5 o’clock in the evening of 31st May 1533, Queen Anne Boleyn left the Tower of London and began her coronation procession to Westminster Hall.

Click the image to see a larger animation of the procession

The Queen’s part of the procession was led by the servants of Jean de Dinteville, the French ambassador, who were dressed in blue velvet coats with sleeves of blue and yellow velvet. Their horses were “trapped with close trappers of blue sarcenet powdered with white crosses”. After them came “gentlemen, squires and knights”, followed by the judges, and the Knights of the Bath, dressed in ermine trimmed violet gowns and hoods. Next were abbots, barons, bishops, earls, marquesses, the Lord Chancellor, the Archbishop of York, the Venetian ambassador, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the French ambassador, the Mayor of London, William Howard (acting as deputy earl marshal for his brother, Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk) and Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, acting as Constable of England.

Behind her chancellor, “sergeants and officers of arms”, came Queen Anne Boleyn in a litter decorated with white cloth of gold and led by two palfreys clad in white damask. Hall describes Anne as wearing a surcoat of white cloth of gold, a mantle of the same cloth, but trimmed with ermine, and a coif with a circlet of “rich stones”. Her hair was loose and flowing. Above her was a canopy of cloth of gold, decorated with gilt statues and silver bells, and carried by the barons of the Cinque Ports. Following the Queen were her chamberlain, Lord Borough, and her master of the horses, William Coffin, then her ladies clothed in crimson velvet and cloth of gold and tissue. Then came chariots carrying the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk and the Marchioness of Dorset (or possibly Elizabeth Boleyn, Anne’s mother), and other ladies of the court.

The route of the coronation procession included Fenchurch Street, Gracechurch Street (and Leadenhall), Cornhill Street, Poultry, Cheapside, St Paul’s Cathedral, St Paul’s Churchyard, Ludgate, Fleet Street, Temple Bar, and then probably the Strand, the present day Trafalgar Square, Whitehall and, finally, Westminster Hall. It wasn’t just a simple procession, it included various stops for pageants and entertainment, which we know about from chronicler Edward Hall and “The noble tryumphaunt coronacyon of quene Anne” pamphlet from 1533:

  • Fenchurch Street – “a pageaunt all with children apparelled like marchauntes whiche welcommed her to the Citiewith two proper preposicions both in Frenche & Englishe”.
    Fenchurch Street

  • Gracechurch Street – “a ryght costly pagent of Apollo with the nyne muses amonge ye mountaynes syttyng on ye mount of Pernasus [Parnassus] and euery of them hauynge theyr instruments and apparayle acordyng to the descryption of poets and namely of Uirgyll[Virgil] with many goodly verses to her great prayse and honour.” There was also a wine fountain there.Gracechurch Street
  • Leaden Hall, Gracechurch St – Here, there were two pageants. The first had Anne Boleyn’s falcon badge as its theme. It had a castle with a green, and a “root” (or stump) out of which white and red roses spilled. A white falcon descended from Heaven and landed on the stump, then an angel wearing armour descended and crowned the falcon. The second pageant consisted of St Anne, surrounded by her children, the three Marys, and their children. Here, verses were read to Queen Anne Boleyn, poetry which emphasised England’s hope for her and the child she was carrying.
  • The Conduit on Cornhill Street – Here, there “was a sumptuous pagent of the thre graces: and at the comynge of the quenes grace a poete declared the nature of all those thre ladyes and gave hye prayses vnto the quene. And after his preamble fynysshed every lady partyculer spake great honour and hye prayse of the quenes grace.” Hall adds that there was also “the spryng of grace continually ronnyng wyne.”

    Cornhill Street

  • Cheapside – At the “great conduit”, which was newly painted with “arms and devices”, there was “a costly fountayne whereout ranne whyte wyne claret and red great plenty all that after noone: and ther was great melody with speches.”
    At Cheapside Cross, which had been “newe garnisshed”, she met the Aldermen and the Recorder of London who “came to her with lone reuerence makyng a proper and briefe proposicion and gaue to her in the name of the Citie a thousand markes in golde in a Purse of golde, whiche she thankefully accepted with many goodly wordes.”
    At the lesser conduit, there was a pageant of the Judgement of Paris: “And within that pagent was fyue costly seates wherin was set these fyue personages that is to wete Juno Pallas Mercury and Venus and Parys hauyng a ball of golde presentyng it to her grace with certayne verses of great honour and chyldren syngyng a balade to her grace and prayse to all her ladyes.”
    Nasim Tadghighi explained in her article on the coronation procession that in this pageant “Paris of Troy is asked to judge who of three goddess – Juno, Pallas and Venus – should be rewarded with the golden apple, a prize which he granted to Venus. The renowned story is given a slight twist here. When Anne approached the display Paris was just about to give the apple to Venus but upon seeing Anne he grants her the prize, for her exceeding beauty and grace.”

    Cheapside Cross


  • St Paul’s Cathedral – Here, there was “a proper and a sumptuous pagent yt is to wete ther sat. iij. fayre
    ladyes virgyns costly arayde with a fayre rounde trone ouer their heedes where aboute was written this. Regina Anna prospere precede et regna that is in englysshe Quene Anne prospere precede and reygne. The lady that sate in the myddes hauynge a table of golde in her hande wrytten with letters of asure. Ueni amica coronaberis. Come my loue thou shall be crowned. And two aungels hauyng a close crowne of golde bytwene
    their handes. And the lady on ye ryght hande had a table of syluer wherein was writte. Domine dirige gressos meos. Lorde god dyrecte my wayes. The other on the lyfte hande had in another table of syluer written thus. Confide in domino. Trust in god. And vnder theyr fete was a longe rol wherin was written this. Regina Anna nouum regis de sanguine natum cum paries populis aurea secla tuis. Quene Anne whan yu shalte beare a newe sone of ye kynges bloode there shalbe a golden worlde vnto thy people.”
    The ladies then threw wafers and rose leaves, and on the wafers were verses written in gold.

    St Paul's Cathedral

  • St Paul’s Churchyard – On a scaffold here, Hall records that two hundred “well apparelled” schoolchildren said to the Queen “diuers goodly verses of Poetes translated into Englishe, to the honor of the kyng and her.”St Paul's Churchyard
  • St Martin’s Church at Ludgate – Hall describes how a choir of men and children stood on the leads of the church roof and sang “newe balades made in praise of her.”

    St Martin's Church

  • Fleet Street – The conduit here had been freshly painted and a pageant featuring a tower with four turrets had been erected. From each turret a “cardinal virtue” spoke to Anne promising that they would never leave her and that they would aid and comfort her. There were also instruments making a “heavenly noise” and the conduit ran red wine and claret all afternoon.
    Fleet Street

  • Temple Bar (the last recorded pageant) – Temple Bar had been newly painted and here there was a choir of men and children signing to the Queen.

    Temple Bar

“The noble tryumphaunt coronacyon of quene Anne” pamphlet records that Anne then made her way via Charing Cross to Westminster Hall, which was described by Hall as newly glazed and decorated with “cloth of arras”. There, Anne enjoyed refreshments such as “spice plates”, hippocras and wine, which she shared with her ladies. She then gave thanks to lords, ladies and Mayor, and retired for the night. Both Hall and the pamphlet record that Anne was then taken secretly to spend the night with the King at his “Manor of Westminster”. She must have been exhausted after the procession, but she still had a big day ahead of her.
Westminster Hall

Nicholas Udall and John Leland were asked to write poetry for the various pageants which made up Anne Boleyn’s coronation procession and you can read them at http://www.philological.bham.ac.uk/boleyn/contents.html – click on “translation” to read them in English.

You can read more about Anne Boleyn’s coronation procession and its route in Nasim’s article – click here.

Roland Hui has done a beautifully illuminated Anne Boleyn coronation book using the text of “The noble tryumphaunt coronacyon of Quene Anne, wyfe unto the most noble kynge Henry VIII”. He used calfskin vellum, with illustrations done in ink with raised and silver gold leaf. You can see photos of it at Photobucket.

Notes and Sources

8 thoughts on “31 May 1533 – The Coronation Procession of Queen Anne Boleyn”

  1. Liz says:

    Did many of the ordinary people turn out for her coronation? Was there celebration in the streets for Anne given that she was unpopular at the time? Could someone tell please? Thank you.

    1. Claire says:

      With wine running from fountains and pageants and entertainment, the people of London definitely turned out for the procession. Nasim, who wrote about Anne’s coronation procession here on The AB Files in 2011, wrote:
      “Anne’s coronation procession has been shrouded by the controversy of her marriage to Henry and by certain contemporary documents which wished to present the event as a disaster. Far from it; the authorities had managed in such a short space of time to organise an impressive and respectable affair. No one publicly booed Anne; as Ives states, those who witnessed the event were more curious about the proceedings than anything else.

      However much Anne was disliked by many within London for the simple fact that she replaced Katherine of Aragon, they also appreciated a spectacle. The Imperial ambassador claimed that the Hanseatic merchants had taken the opportunity to publicly insult Anne by displaying the Imperial Eagle within the Holbein display on Gracechurch Street. But Chapuys was wrong, as the eagle displayed was not the double-headed Imperial one of Charles V.”

  2. maritzal says:

    That’s impressive that till this day love or hate her she is forever in history as Queen Anne Boleyn wife of King Henry VIII as is Elizabeth I being the Queen of England for many years its interesting and amazing to know more of this family and its heritage wish I could know more about them maybe going as far back as Henry’s ancestors Regards maritzal

  3. Wendy says:

    I walk part of this route every day to work. 🙂

    1. maritzal says:

      That’s awesome 🙂 maritzal

  4. BanditQueen says:

    Thinking about when you stand today waiting for floats and open top bus parades on great celebrations; I am guessing that with the crowds and the stops that the parade got behind schedule. It must have been a very enjoyable day and it must have been a beautiful thing to behold as Henry had spent a fortune on every detail. Henry wanted Anne to be pampered and to have every honour, to validate her as Queen. The ceremonial of this coronation would do all of that and enable people to see her and to understand that Anne was now his Queen. It was also a very hot day; and I feel a little sorry for Anne in all those robes and things and heavy with child.

    1. Maryann Pitman says:

      Unless I am mistaken, the London guilds would have been expected to contribute heavily to the cost of the events, an probably actually commissioning some of the pageants.

  5. Banditqueen says:

    Eustace Chapuys described the coronation of Anne Boleyn as a mean and meagre affair and he dismissed it but it was anything but, in fact it was one of the most elaborate coronations on record. We have the barges and the mythical beasts and we have the beautiful tableaux and children singing and we are probably hours behind schedule with all the stops and the banqueting and free wine and food. We have knights, lords and ladies, cloth of gold and fur mantels, horses decorated with rich badges and gold and silver, pageants of nymphs dancing and sculpture and everything was elaborately decorated with freezes coloured in blue and gold and silver and representing her heraldry and there were scenes from the gods of Ancient Rome and Greece, stories from mythology and many other things along the way. The whole thing went on for four days and there was an expensive state banquet and the service itself must also have been a sight to behold. Henry was making sure everyone knew who Anne was, the true Queen, just as Katherine had been at their own twin coronation 24 years earlier. People may not have approved and indeed Anne later complained that few people had cheered or raised their caps in respect, but they would certainly have come out in force to enjoy everything on offer and marvel at the spectacle before them.

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