7 February 1526 – A sign that the king has fallen for Anne Boleyn?

The 7th February 1526 was the day of the annual Shrovetide joust. It took place at Greenwich and that year’s theme was unrequited love.

King Henry VIII’s team of knights were apparelled in cloth of gold and silver richly embroidered with a man’s heart in a press, surrounded by flames and bearing the motto Declare ie nose, or “Declare I dare not”, while the other team’s apparel was decorated with burning hearts and a lady’s hand holding a watering can over the burning hearts to quench them.

Was the king’s motto and the theme of the joust aimed at Anne Boleyn? Well, it’s impossible to say.

Read more…

Related Post

13 thoughts on “7 February 1526 – A sign that the king has fallen for Anne Boleyn?”
  1. He could have an eye for Anne Boleyn or anyone. We assume it was Anne because of Henry’s relationship with her and he approached Rome about her either in 1526 or 27, but it could have been anyone, even her sister still. Henry and Anne were not a full on item until 1527 but Henry had a thing for her before this. He was also looking at his marriage, secretly, so was it a declaration or was it the usual game of love played at such a tournament. In truth it could be either, but it certainly isn’t proof of him being in love.

    Today is also the traditional birthday of Saint Thomas More in 1478, in London, scholar, humanist, councillor and firm defender of his faith. Happy Birthday Sir Thomas More.

    1. I’ve written about More over on the Tudor Society today and put links to past articles on here over on our FB page. He was a fascinating man.

      Yes, we don’t know exactly when Henry started courting Anne Boleyn ( I wish he had dated his love letters to her!). David Starkey dates it to 1524/5 and Eric Ives to 1526. We do know, however, that Henry VIII applied for the dispensation in August 1527 and we know that Anne had rebuffed his advances for a while before agreeing to marry him so I think a 1526 date makes sense.

      As far as Mary Boleyn is concerned, my own personal view is that Henry was involved with her before her marriage to Carey in 1520. I’m basing that on what we know of his relationship with Elizabeth Blount, he arranged a good marriage for her after he had finished with her and there is no evidence of him being involved with her after her marriage. It makes more sense to me that he slept with Mary sometimes between her return to England and the end of 1519/early 1520, perhaps sleeping with her when Bessie Blount was pregnant with Henry Fitzroy, and then he arranged a suitable match for Mary with a gentleman of his privy chamber. I can’t see how the 1522 joust can be taken as evidence of the start of Henry’s affair with Mary.

      1. I actually believe that Henrys affair with Mary was before she was married, I cannot see it starting after, and Carey was a good friend of the King anyway, would Henry have sought to make him a cuckold, I think his behaviour tended to follow a patten, when he tired of his lady love he married her of, Blounts affair ended when she became pregnant he wasn’t interested after that, but she wasn’t forgotten as she gave him his son, sigh if only we could go back in time and ask all these people all the answers we want to know.

        1. Yes, if only we could go back and be a fly on the wall, or if only these people had written everything down and dated it all!

        2. Not only that but it meant that neither man, the lover or the husband could be sure whoever child belonged to whom, if the wife became pregnant, unless there was a strong family resemblance, it really was not fair on the husband if he were expected to bring up the offspring of the King even though no doubt he would have been well rewarded, Mary Boleyn comes to mind whose husband received grants after his child Catherine was born, which many people cites as proof she was Henrys, but he was in the habit of making grants to his favoured courtiers anyway.

      2. I am not certain about the start of Mary Boleyn’s relationship with Henry, but the dispensation in 1526 has been interpreted by most historians to refer to Henry’s relationship with Mary and it was probably over by this time at the latest. Henry was, I believe certainly interested in Anne and she was torn between his loving attentions and not giving in, staying virtuous. Henry probably did fall for Anne at this time and it seems he and Anne were at least toying with each other by means of gifts and letters. It would have been easier if Henry had dated his letters, but this is Henry, who hated writing letters and he was ‘struck with the dart of love” and he was acting like a love sick puppy dog, so we don’t have his dates. He had declared his love for Mary in 1522 so he may have done the same when he fell for Anne, as here in 1526. I do believe he was still having an affair with Mary in 1522, because I believe he was the father of Katherine Carey, but that is only me, personally. I don’t think Henry fell for Anne at the pageant on her debut, but she was more often at court by the time he fell in love with her. 1526 makes perfect sense as it fits the time line, the request for a dispensation and time for Anne to at first try to escape the King and then to make her own offer, to give him sons if she was his wife, not his mistress. By the Summer of 1527, Henry and Anne had become a couple and I believe their feelings were mutual as was any decision to hold of from sexual relations because they couldn’t risk an illegitimate child. If Anne was to be the mother of a future heir, everything had to be done right. Henry was already questioning his marriage with Queen Katherine, before he had a relationship with Anne, but as he wanted a new wife he needed an annulment, not a divorce. Anne was as good a choice as anyone in Henry’s mind and as he loved her, all the better. However, he needed to keep that quiet as well because he may get an annulment because be needed a male heir and he now believed his first marriage to be invalid, but he would get nowhere if people and the Church courts thought his only desire was to marry Anne.

        It would indeed be good to go back and see Henry at this time, magnificent in the joust and a playboy. It would be great to ask him who his mystery lady was in 1526.

      3. This seemed to be Henry’s modus operandi … find a convenient courtier to marry his discarded mistresses. Not only did he do this with Bessie Blount, but IIRC, he had a brief affair with Madge Shelton. After it was over, Madge too was betrothed to another of Henry’s courtiers, Henry Norris (before an unfortunate conversation with then Queen Anne). So, I think he did the same with Mary Boleyn. Also, the three women he wanted to make his mistresses (but they held out for marriage) were all single at the time Henry first got interested.

  2. Happy birthday Sir Thomas More, a sincere honest man who died for his beliefs, a man of integrity a courageous man, a family man, a man who in that century and ours, indeed in any century was a rare breed, RIP, now getting back to Henry and his ill fated love affair, looking back through our 21st c eyes the things they used to do back then appear rather cheesy, but it was all part of the medieval and 16th c game of courtly love ritual and it was considered an honour to wear a lady’s colours as they did in the days of King John, they were the gallant bold knights and they sought the love of a fair maiden, we cannot tell if Henrys motto was a sign that he had fallen for Anne, as Bq mentions, it could have been anyone, men notice pretty women, we do not know when he first noticed her but if his motto was about Anne, then she would have known, Henry never kept his feelings to himself and as we know, his pursuit of her was ardent, mostly because she rejected him in the first place, we can only speculate but it is nice to imagine in our minds eye the scene at Greenwich all those years ago, the colour the magnificent displays, the knights and the crowds watching, the beautiful horses, I hope the weather was ok, today as I post this it’s lovely here though past few days we have had a bit of rain, Saturday it rained non stop, February can be colder and wetter than January though because of global warming Britains getting hotter, but it also causes freak weather conditions, the winters back in the 16th c were much worse, but they must have all enjoyed themselves.

    1. more was a hard line religious fundamentalist who had no iota of human compassion, mercy or any other so called christian virtues. he tortured, racked and burnt his way though hundreds of people. he should have been dealt with the same way- beheading was too easy an out.

      1. Hello Kez, first of all there is no contemporary evidence that More racked or tortured anyone. Even when this accusation was made it was later corrected even by Fox and others. You have been reading too much Hilary Mantel.

        Nobody is denying More was not a man of hard faith and he was as he was no different than anyone else when it came to a hard line on heresy, but a few facts.

        There were not hundreds of people burnt in the reign of Henry Viii so More could not possibly be responsible for hundreds of deaths.

        Five cases are at the most agreed to have been brought to trial by More and two after he released them the first time. It was his job and actually, Thomas Cromwell and Thomas Wolsey came down even harder than More. When More sought out heretics he was ordered to do so by Wolsey at first, who was his boss and then Henry, his other boss. Five heretics were actually condemned under his authority and two of them are questionable as they were in another jurisdiction.

        More let far more people go as he found the accusations against them were without merit. He was also fair as a magistrate. Even John Guy who has written about More and how he was fanatical against heresy says he didn’t authorise torture and no contemporary evidence has been found to support seventeenth century history that he did, based on Fox, who again amended his claim.

        What evidence do you have from contemporary sources that More racked, burnt and tortured his way through hundreds of people?

        Thomas More was beheaded for refusing to agree that Henry who was now starting to act like a tyrant was the self appointed Head of the Church in England. The action was now treason under the Treason Act and the Supremacy Act which made even thinking something against the King and his new wife and their kids treason. This was under Thomas Cromwell, not Thomas More and would lead to dozens, not hundreds of people being hung, drawn and quartered. More had this sentence commuted and no I don’t agree he deserved anything else, nobody did. Beheading was brutal and it could go wrong.

        More showed a great deal of humanity in his life and he was also rather enlightened and his faith was sincere. He was a scholar and one of the leading minds of his time. I am not saying he was not also sincere in his distaste of what he saw as harmful and false new beliefs, many people agreed with him, but no, he didn’t torture or burn hundreds of people.

  3. I would be interested to know the themes of other Shrovetide jousts both before and after 1526. The reason is that my first take on the theme is that it is a manifestation of courtly love, and there may not have been any particular woman in Henry’s mind; it was merely a theme. As for the length of time that Henry kept secret his fascination for Anne Boleyn I can’t see him being very patient for very long and so his secret would be out in quite a short time. I certainly can’t see him keeping a secret passion for over a year.

    1. Shrovetide 1522 had the Chateau Vert pageant with the virtues and then Henry VIII’s motto for the jousting was “Elle mon Coeur a navera”, or “She has wounded my Heart”. I haven’t seen mention of other themes in Hall’s chronicle, I know that 1525 just mentions the colours worn and no motto or theme. I’ll have to do some more digging.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *