Elizabeth_I_Parliament_Robes_with_VirtuesOn this day in 1533, at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, Queen Anne Boleyn gave birth to a daughter, the future Elizabeth I, at Greenwich Palace. We don’t know the details of Elizabeth’s birth, only the time, the place and the fact that she was named after her paternal grandmother, Elizabeth of York, and possibly also her maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Howard. The little girl had her father’s red hair and long nose, and her mother’s dark eyes.

The birth appears to have been straightforward, the baby was healthy and so was Anne, but the baby was a girl and not the predicted son and heir. So sure were Henry and Anne that the baby would be a prince that a celebratory tournament had been organised and a letter announcing the birth of a prince had been written. The joust was cancelled and the word “prince” had an “s” added in the birth announcement letter, but it is easy to read too much into the cancellation of the festivities. As Eric Ives points out, the celebratory jousts were cancelled in 1516 too, when Catherine of Aragon gave birth to Mary, and it was traditional for the celebrations of the birth of a princess to be low-key. Although the joust was cancelled, Ives writes that “a herald immediately proclaimed this first of Henry’s ‘legitimate’ children, while the choristers of the Chapel Royal sang the Te Deum” and preparations were already underway for a lavish christening.

Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth I on 17th November 1558, following the death of her half-sister, Mary I. She ruled for over 44 years and her reign is known as “The Golden Age”. You can read about her achievements in my article “Elizabeth I’s Main Achievements”.

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11 thoughts on “7 September 1533 – Anne Boleyn Gives Birth to the future Elizabeth I”
  1. Anne was probably lucky to have a straightforward birth, but that does not mean it was not a little difficult as she was old for a woman having her first child; even today a lady in her thirties having a first baby, although not so unusual causes some extra concern. What was she in age: between 26 and 32 depending on which year is correct for her birth?

    Henry and Anne had obviously built up their expectations beyond the scope of reality and were disappointed when those expectations turned out to be less than perfect. Having gone to goodness knows how many astrologers, which was mixed with magic, Maths and religion; they were told that they were to have a son and the doctors who could not tell either told them the same thing. Well, lets face it they are hardly going to tell Henry and Anne anything different are they? I wonder how many packed up and left the country afterwards for fear of being arrested for being wrong?

    As you say, though they did not know that Anne was having a girt, and they were still glad that the child was healthy and alive. The celebrations for a son where of course cancelled but they still made a great fuss and Elizabeth had a grand baptism a few days later with lots of fuss. Henry had seen that Anne was fertile and had provided a healthy child so he had no reason this early in the marriage to doubt that she would provide him with a son soon afterwards. This was her first pregnancy and she had given Henry and England a very healthy little girl who would rule for a long time and be a great monarch. They did not know this, but still had some hope, so we cannot read too much into his initial disappointment at Elizabeth having being a girl. I think that Henry got over the shock and that Anne was quickly pregnant by the following Christmas for a second time.

    I just want to mention that there was another event happening in the palace that day: earlier on, Charles Brandon Duke of Suffolk married his fourth and last wife: the young ward that he had; Katherine Willoughby, daughter of the friend of Queen Catherine of Aragon, Maria de Salinas. She was a heiress in her own right, a very rich one and now Charles controlled her fortune but also was in a position to influence things with both sides of the political and religious divide. Catherine in her own right would later turn out to be a very important political figure and influencial Protestant; a radical reformer, after the death of Suffolk. The marriage was very important indeed: 7th September 1533.

    I am not agreed that the Age of Elizabeth was a golden age: I think the spin doctors want us to think of it that way; it had a lot of things wrong with it the same as any other age. For an ordinary person life was short and brutal and very dangerous. For the middle classe it was one of new opportunities and invention and for the rich one of leisure, greed, great houses and luxery, but also dangerous as they could be chopped at the nexk on the slightest rumour of not towing the line. Plague and famine and disease were everywhere. Religious discord was everywhere. The Tudors used torture as a hobby. Dress was defined by your status not wealth. But what the age did bring was increase in literature and education, the theatre and adventure, new ways of building and new inventions. It may not have been a golden age but it laid the foundations of the modern age. And the secret of Elizabeth’s success? Not marrying and not getting involved with one faction or another but using her whits and charm and bad temper to use them all to her own highest gain and for what she saw as England’s good. She was lucky in that both of her parents were intelligent and well educated and she was young enough when she came to the throne to rule for a long time. She also knew what she wanted and how to get her own way. She trusted no man or woman; and that made her rely on her own ideas and will. And perhaps she encouraged others to do the same.

  2. Wow I too like the articles gives information on the tudors everytime I watch the movie Elizabeth I wonder how much pressure she had to go through to be the best possible Queen for she did it for her people who she loved kind regards maritzal

  3. I have just looked at the clock here and it was 3.15pm as I sat to post this, and I instantly imagined what it would have been like in the birth chamber…the atmosphere must have been thick, with shock, disappointment and some upset. The muted silence must have been deafening, with quick shooting glances between each other of panic on how the King would react. I can also imagine that there were those who tried to lighten the disappointment, by stating what a fine healthy baby Elizabeth was, and talking about her appearance, but it must have felt so hollow then, for a while anyway.

    I feel sure that these feelings past quickly for Anne when she held her child in her arms for the first time. It is obvious that Anne loved and doted on her daughter in the short time she was with her.
    As for ‘Daddy’ who knows, he showed a great bravado about Elizabeth, showing her off to everyone, boasting etc., but I always feel this was an act of high pretence, I’m not saying he didn’t care about her in his own on/off way, but to me Henry kept his deep disappointment under wraps at the time, in public anyway. His arrogance and pride had taken another blow, his dynasty still uncertain, these things helped fuel a growing tyrant to go to extreme measures eventually.

    It’s a great shame they couldn’t foresee what this little girl would become, but how could they, it was unheard of that a women could rule in her own right then. No one could predict Elizabeth would be Queen… just as they couldn’t predict the sex of this baby before it was born..

    1. Give one thing for Henry he always called Bess his Elizabeth even though he went through a phase of calling her anyting but his child. He soon came back round again when she came to court again some months into his marriage to Jane Seymour. Have decided; men are stupid.

      But Henry also went mad on Mary until she told him were to go over his marriage divorce from his mother as teenagers are likely to do. She must have been very confused, as must little Elizabeth when she suddenly found herself alone with a few servants after her mother was killed. It may be a spin doctor ploy to call the Elizabethen Age a golden one as I personally think it has many flaws, but she was a great monarch just the same and achieved many things for the country as a whole. Part of that was due to her father getting sense and ensuring she and Mary continued at court and had great tutors. They both had clever mother’s and both had strong personalities. Bess was also fotunate in that she came to the throne relatively young enough to enjoy her life and rule for some time. Poor Mary was 37 and the cruel life had its toll on her. Again, men are stupid.

      1. You are right, Henry’s relationship with Mary was an on/off one too, he set a pattern it seems, Mum in favour so is the Daughter…I think the treatment of his Daughters certainly took its toll on them, particularly Mary, in later years, poor girls.

        No, I don’t believe Elizabeth’s reign was flawless either, no reign has been. They are all dogged with unfairness, brutality etc., all relative to the times in which they lived in. Look at Victorian times, an era of progress in engineering, industry and many other fields, at what cost though, young children working long hours in appalling conditions, losing limbs in machinery, they were cheap labour, no better for adults either, all for the profit and benefit of others who could afford it, and in the grand scheme of things this was not so long ago, yet is seen as a brilliant period of history…

        There can be an element of ‘Rose Tinted Glasses’ about most eras in history, I think we could all be a little guilty of that at times, depending on which we favour, but I think at the end of the day we do take them off and see it’s not all grand clothes, houses and dining, that beneath the Glitz ‘n Glamour there was a dark and dismal side to life throughout time.

        As for Henry being stupid! The King a mere Man!! ‘Off with your head, my Lady’ 🙂

  4. Even if Elizabeth was a girl she was born healthy and she did show that she was strong even when only three days old. I always love wishing her a happy birthday on this special day and always find it cool that I share the same birthday has Elizabeth. I was born on September 7th and I greatly admire what Elizabeth, her mom, her father and her whole family that they did in their lifetime.

  5. I am an avid Anglophile and lover of English history. I find the accounts of the War of the Roses and the Tudors and Stuarts, Elizabeth I and Charles II and John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester and so many of Britain’s royals and their associates endlessly fascinating.

    What troubles me as I read the above comments, and please forgive me for playing the role of spelling cop, is…well, the atrocious spelling and grammar in nearly every single comment. This is a somewhat populist portion of history I suppose, but even given that consideration, one would think anyone offering a comment on such a serious subject would at least make some small effort to keep obvious and simple spelling errors to a minimum if for no other reason than that of self respect.

    That said, I think Henry VIII was a self-absorbed, egotistical, glutton and a PIG. In today’s U.S. he’d a Bush or maybe someone like Donald Trump, orange tan, ridiculous hair and man-girdle and all. He’s just disgusting. I take care when looking back in time to assess people based on the mores of the time in which they lived, but Henry would have been a swine no matter when he lived. I feel sorry for all the pain he suffered from his leg injury/gout but when I compare it to the murder and misery he caused his wives, children and people, it certainly pales in comparison. His power so corrupting he literally stank of it.

    1. Thank you for your comment, AcerbicRN. Regarding people’s comments and their use of grammar etc., I’d like to point out the following:

      • Many people on here are writing in a language that is not their first language.
      • Some people are typing on smart phones and therefore make inadvertent mistakes.
      • Some commenters are school children
      • Everyone is welcome here, whatever their standard of English, and I don’t want people to be made to feel uncomfortable or to be put off posting comments because someone is going to play spelling cop.

      I appreciate that it can be annoying to see mistakes, but what is important to me is the free discussion that goes on here and the fact that people are prepared to share their views. I hope you can understand that.

    2. Iagree with you about henry{he was not a very nice chap at all} but I think he was a narcissist and with narcissism there is always what they call an enabler ,a person who sort of feeds this narcissist personality ,I think henry had plenty of those yes men in his life .

  6. I just wanted to say I watched the mini-series “The White Queen” and have since been infatuated with the people of that time. I am sure the television show did not truly depict the events 100% and so I have done a lot of reading about the War of the Roses and Tudor eras. When Showtime had “The Tudors” on it, I had watched a few episodes but all of the sexually graphic scenes made me stop watching. I suppose I felt if I wanted to watch pornography, I would do so! I have started watching it again on Netflix, only because once The White Queen was over, I wanted more. I wanted to know what happened next! It would be nice to have a list of books in the order in which things happened. The Tudors aired before The White Queen, so I feel they went backwards. Had they shown that mini-series first, then The Tudors, I may have been more inclined to watch it. I typically don’t find myself enjoying these types of shows but I was surprised at how quickly I became attached to the storyline. Like I said before, I find myself wanting more. I see a list in the side margins of books. Are these in order of time, or do they just come up in a random order of significance to the article? If you happen to have a list of some books, starting with when King Henry IV took the thrown, or even a few before, that would be great! Or even where I might be able to look to find them! Thank You!

    Newly Fascinated in History

  7. Anne had a craving for apples whilst she was pregnant and so did my mum, also Elizabeth was born on the 7 th September and my birthdays on the 8 th, how about that? I like to think it’s because we were both harvest babies !

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