Posted By Claire on January 25, 2010
On this day in history, 25th January 1533, Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII tied the knot in a somewhat secret ceremony. Eric Ives, in “The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn”, writes of how in the autumn of 1532 (probably November) Henry finally “felt secure enough to consummate his relationship with Anne – and she, for her part, must have been convinced at last that it was safe for her to respond”, after a successful Anglo-French treaty and a visit to Calais.
After the consummation of the relationship, it was imperative that the couple marry as quickly as possible to ensure that any resulting baby would be legitimate and a true heir. It may be that Anne suspected that she was pregnant in the January of 1533 and that was why the couple underwent a secret ceremony.
So secret was this ceremony that only those very close to the King and his new wife knew about the ceremony. Ives writes of how the Imperial Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, was still in the dark on 31st March 1533 when he wrote of how it was rumoured that Henry would marry Anne at Easter and the Venetian Ambassador, the first ambassador to report the marriage, did not announce it until the 12th April. Even Francis I was clueless until George Boleyn was sent to France in March 1533 to give the French King the news that Henry VIII had married Anne Boleyn and that she was with child.
But was the 25th January 1533 really Anne and Henry’s wedding day?
The Tudor chronicler, Edward Hall, puts forward another date for the royal wedding, saying:-
“The king, after his return [from Calais] married privily the Lady Anne Bulleyn on Saint Erkenwald’s Day, which marriage was kept so secret that very few knew it, till she was great with child, at Easter after.” (quoted in Eric Ives’s “The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn”)
Ives points out that St Erkenwald’s Day was the day after the couple returned to Dover, Thursday the 14th November 1532. Protestants latched on to this date as it meant that Elizabeth was conceived in marriage, with her birthday being the 7th September 1533 – a wedding date of the 25th January makes it likely that Elizabeth was conceived outside of marriage! Even the man known for slandering Anne Boleyn, Nicholas Sander, dates Henry and Anne’s marriage as the 14th November, so Ives wonders if Henry and Anne made some kind of formal commitment on this date, prior to a proper wedding ceremony in January.
Whichever date you choose to believe, it must have been a relief to the couple to finally tie the knot after seven years of waiting. It had not been an easy time and Henry had had to move Heaven and Earth to get his woman. Henry VIII pursued Anne Boleyn, like no other woman before or after her, and we can only imagine his happiness at finally marrying his love and his hopes for the future. It is sad that he pursued her for so long and yet was married to her for only 3 years.
What turned this happy groom into the monster who entertained his mistress while his wife climbed the scaffiold?
How could such love and passion turn so sour?
It’s difficult to understand isn’t it? It is also sad that Henry never knew that the child she was carrying at the time of their marriage was going to grow up to be one of the greatest monarchs that England has ever had – Elizabeth I. Whatever you think of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII, their union resulted in a great queen.
P.S. Remember to enter our Anne Boleyn Files 1 Year Anniversary Competition – see Anne Boleyn Files Anniversary Competition.