A Secret Marriage

Posted By on January 25, 2010

Wedding 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.

7 thoughts on “A Secret Marriage”

  1. Ingrid says:

    I really belive that today is the day! I feel happy for Anne and sad because it was not so far! But is nice know the importance of this day!

  2. Claire says:

    I agree with you Ingrid, it’s a happy sad day because Anne must have been happy to finally marry Henry but she didn’t know that this step was going to ultimately lead to her death.

  3. Melissa says:

    Great article as always 🙂 There is a somewhat funny scene in Wolf Hall where everyone is scrambling about trying to find a Bible for Anne and Henry to swear on because she’s finally agreed to consummate the relationship.

  4. Angelina says:

    A great Article, Claire. And I too agree that Jan 25th was their wedding day. And for Anne unforantly the beginning of the end. But for this one day I will (or two days since I am like 2 days late with this comment) I will simply imagien the joy and happiness that surrounded the King and his second wife 🙂

  5. Eliza says:

    This must have been one of the happiest days in Anne’s life, along with the day of her coronation… All her efforts finally giving fruits.. Thanks for reminding us, Claire, and for the article!

  6. rochie says:

    Astrologically speaking, maybe the 25th Jan 1533 is the most significant. On this day there was an exact conjunction (new moon) of the Sun and Moon (Lunation as it is called). And also a conjunction between Mars and Venus. In other words, the great male significators of Sun and Mars together with the female ones of the Moon and Venus, all linked up. Just the kind of thing Henry and Anne, and their astrologers, would have found appealing for a royal marriage.
    On the other hand, the 14th Nov 1532 has nothing special star-wise to commend it, either way, good nor bad.
    The January 1533 chart also has one very unfortunate aspect – namely an opposition from Saturn to the Mars/Venus conjunction. Saturn is associated with death, vengeance, old age and the rule of law. This maybe suggests some of the cruelty, jealousy and bitterness that would follow. It was far from a perfect moment in time, therefore – but probably the whole thing had to take place anyway due to the possibility of Anne’s pregnancy.
    None of this rules out a ceremony of some kind on the 14th November, of course, but the official January 1533 ceremony has all the theatricality and sexual chemistry you would expect – considering what was to follow.

  7. Eliza says:

    Great analysis, Rochie!! I always wonder what sign Anne was.. I am really interested in astrology..

Please note: Comment moderation is currently enabled so there will be a delay between when you post your comment and when it shows up.

Leave a Reply

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.