Anne Boleyn Becomes Marquis of Pembroke

Posted By on September 1, 2009

On this day in history, 1st September 1532, Henry VIII made Anne Boleyn Marquis (Marchioness or Marquess) of Pembroke.

Why did Henry give Anne such a prestigious title in her own right? Quite simply it was to “fit” her for the European stage, in readiness for meeting King Francis I of France. “The Great Matter” was still not resolved and Anne was not yet Henry’s wife and Queen, so she required some status befitting of England’s future Queen.

Eric Ives1 writes of how, on Sunday 1st September 1532, Anne dressed in jewels and ermine trimmed velvet for the lavish ceremony at Windsor Castle. She must have looked a queen with her loose flowing hair (traditional for coronations), beautiful clothing and jewels, and that is what Henry and Anne wanted to show. Anne was England’s Queen in all but name.

At the ceremony, Anne, accompanied by her cousin Mary Howard, the Countess of Derby and the Countess of Rutland, was taken into Henry VIII’s presence by the Garter King-at-arms, and knelt in front of the King and the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk. There, kneeling, she listened as Stephen Gardiner read out the patent which gave her the title of Marquis of Pembroke in her own right, a title that would also pass on to her offspring. After this patent was read, the King crowned her with the gold coronet of a marquis and placed on her a crimson velvet mantle. Anne received not only the patent but also her own lands which were worth over £1000 per year.

The lavish ceremony was followed by a sumptuous banquet as Henry and Anne celebrated Anne’s noble title. She would be Queen in just a few months.

There is a record of the ceremony in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII:-

” ‘Creacion of lady Anne, doughter to therle of Wilteshier, marquesse of Penbroke.’
Sunday, 1 Sept. 1532, 24 Hen. VIII. The lady was conveyed by noblemen and the officers of arms at Windsor Castle to the King, who was accompanied by the dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk and other noblemen, and the ambassador of France. Mr. Garter bore her patent of creation; and lady Mary, daughter to the duke of Norfolk, her mantle of crimson velvet, furred with ermines, and a coronet. The lady Marques, who was “in her hair,” and dressed in a surcoat of crimson velvet, furred with ermines, with strait sleeves, was led by Elizabeth countess of Rutland, and Dorothy countess of Sussex. While she kneeled before the King, Garter delivered her patent, which was read by the bishop of Winchester. The King invested her with the mantle and coronet, and gave her two patents,—one of her creation, the other of 1,000l. a year. She thanked the King, and returned to her chamber.
Gifts given by the lady Marques :—To Mr. Garter, for her apparel, 8l.; to the Office of Arms, 11l. 13s. 4d. The King gave them 5l.
Officers of Arms present :—Garter and Clarencieux, kings; Richmond, Carlisle, and Windsor, heralds; Rougecross, Portcullis, Bluemantle, and Guisnes, pursuivants.”2

and also a record of the valuation of Anne’s lands:-

“Valuation of her lands.
Total of the lands of the lady Anne marchioness in Wales, over and above casualties not charged, 710l. 7s. 10¾d., out of which she is charged to pay by the King’s grants yearly, 199l. 5s. 11d., “which the tallage or knowledge money will discharge for the time; and after that, the fines for the sessions and the customs which be not charged in the value will discharge them.”
Sum of the lands in England : Corry Mallett, Soms., Hundesdon, and Estwyke, Herts, “lands late Philip Pary’s, in Hundesdon,” manors of Stansted, Roydon, Fylollyshall, and Cokkeshall, and Weston next Baldoke (value of each stated separately), 313l. 5s. 3¾d. Total for England and Wales by the last gift of the King, 1,023l. 13s. 2¾d.”3

Click here to read Esther Hyams’ wonderful poem “The Lady Marquess” about this important day for Anne Boleyn.

Notes and Sources

  1. “The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn”, Eric Ives, pp158-159
  2. L&P, v.1274
  3. Ibid.

16 thoughts on “Anne Boleyn Becomes Marquis of Pembroke”

  1. Aimee says:

    I must say, Anne’s receipt of the patents is one of the few things Henry VIII did that ever impressed me. Every other woman in his life had to be content with their close male relatives receiving rank or promotion in rank, estates, etc.

  2. lisaannejane says:

    I must admit to being confused by so many titles – so where does a marquis/marquess fit in with duke, count, viscount, and probably more that I don’t know!

  3. Kristian says:

    For Lisaanne Jane…

    NOBILITY
    IN ORDER OF RANK:

    Emperor & Empress
    King & Queen
    Archduke & Archduchess
    Grand Duke & Grand Duchess
    Prince & Princess
    Infante & Infanta
    Duke & Duchess
    Marquess & Marchioness
    (a.k.a. Marquis & Marquise)
    Margrave & Margravine
    Count/Earl & Countess
    Viscount & Viscountess
    Baron & Baroness
    Baronet & Baronetess
    Hereditary Knight
    (a.k.a. Black Knight, White Knight, Green Knight)
    Knight & Dame

  4. Claire says:

    Hi Lisa and Kristian,
    There’s a useful PDF on British nobility at http://www.roundtable-bretonnia.org – click on the link. It explains that a Duke is the highest non-royal title followed by Marquess/Marquis, then Earl and Viscount.
    Thanks, Kristian, for taking the time to do that list.

  5. JaneGS says:

    Why Pembroke? Cultural, historical, geographic signifiance? Interesting post, as always.

  6. Claire says:

    SemperEadem on The Tudors wiki says: “It was created for Anne from the title “Earl of Pembroke,” the last of which (before Anne) was Henry’s Welsh great uncles, Jasper Tudor (Pembroke is a Welsh castle, btw). The next to hold the title Earl of Pembroke was William Herbert, Catherine Parr’s sister’s husband.” It was an important title and also it should be noted that Anne was given the male title and held it in her own right, Henry did not hold the title. It really does show the respect that he held for Anne, how much he wanted her to be Queen and how he wanted the world to know she was important, and was not just a passing fancy.

  7. lisaannejane says:

    Thanks to Kristian and Claire for taking the time to answer my question. I am going to check out the website you mentioned and the list was very hellpful, Kristian, it helped clear up a lot of my questions.

  8. Claire says:

    I’ve just found a brilliant article on what it means to be a Marquis at http://www.reference.com/browse/wiki/Marquess. It explains it very well and points out that the only woman ever to be given the title of Marquess/Marquis is Anne Boleyn.

  9. Aimee says:

    “It really does show the respect that he held for Anne, how much he wanted her to be Queen and how he wanted the world to know she was important, and was not just a passing fancy.”

    I think Henry’s motives were to make Anne more “marriageable” to royalty (or, failing marriage, give her children greater social position.) It wasn’t uncommon for monarchs to ennoble their mistresses whether they married them or not. Louis XIV was infamous for ennobling his more important mistresses as a sort of “retirement gift.” Louis XV promoted Madame de Pompadour to the rank of Duchess, but the thoughtful lady refrained from using the title in public out of respect for the Queen.

    Social rules being what they were in these times, elevating the ladies to noble status allowed other nobles to rub elbows with them and not lose face.

  10. rochie says:

    Those who reside outside of the UK might be puzzled over the importance and emphasis given to remote areas such as Pemboke when they look on the map. Pembrokeshire is situated in Wales – which is a country (situated to the West of England) with its own devolved government these days, and which has always enjoyed its own distinct language and culture. The Tudors, as a family and dynasty, came from Wales. And so for Henry to award Anne the title of Marquis of Pembroke was hugely significant at the time. It indicated that he was already viewing Anne as part of the great lineage, being connected in name at least to the land of his ancestors.
    Other prominent Welsh families such as the Herbert’s and Parrys were also important in those times, and each played their parts at the Tudor court. For a look at one of the most significant, yet unrecognised figures about the court of Anne’s daughter Elizabeth, for example, take a look at:
    http://www.squidoo.com/blanche-parry
    The Tudors were really more Welsh than English, in origins at least, and even minor positions about court were occupied by representatives of other prominent Welsh families.

  11. Nasim says:

    IIRC there was some dispute over the title amongst the Welsh gentry so by granting it to Anne, Henry was ensuring that the title and lands stayed within the royal family (for it was stipulated that the title would pass to Anne’s children and Henry confidently expected he and Anne to have son).
    The fact that it was granted to Anne may have been a controversial matter in Wales. Upon Anne’s downfall one Welsh poet attacked her reputation and urged the king to grant high offices and titles in Wales to Welshmen and not to the English. Could this have been a dig at Anne’s elevation?

  12. Claire says:

    There was a discussion about the meaning of this title on Tudorhistory.org a while ago and there was talk of it being a “family title” in that Jasper Tudor (Henry VIII’s great uncle) had once held the earldom of Pembroke. Henry gave his illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy, his father Henry VII’s title of the Duke of Richmond and now he was giving Anne a title with family links. I think that this was the highest title he could give to Anne as “Duke” was one step off prince and probably would have been too much and increased Anne’s unpopularity, plus she was a woman, it’s amazing that she got the title she did really!

    I can imagine it being very controversial in Wales, Nasim, and, yes, that does sound like a dig at Anne.

  13. Aimee says:

    I don’t think it would have been impossible to award Anne Boleyn her own duchy. Other kings elevated their mistresses that high as a practical matter as well as to reward the mistress.

    Charles II of England elevated several of his many mistresses. Barbara Palmer was promoted to Duchess of Cleveland, Louise de Kerouaille (a Frenchwoman HIGHLY unpopular in the court and with English public) became Duchess of Portsmouth.

    It seems probably Henry had other reasons for declaring Anne Marquess instead of a Duchess. From a political standpoint, I’d think promoting her to Duchess might have made it harder for foreign royals to snub her.

    Could it be Henry feared awarding Anne too much status/honor in her own right? Perhaps he feared she might marry someone else if he could not get his divorce?

  14. Annie says:

    I’m assuming Marquess of Pembroke being passed to her children (so Elizabeth, obviously) was nullified after her execution? Because I’m pretty sure a prince or princess could still have other titles no?

  15. Meriale says:

    Anne Boleyn was never Henry’s Mistress in spite of what people think. She would never agree to that. The Terminology of Marquess mean Monarch.. Meaning in line to the thrown of England. Noble titles existed by importance of their direct relation to the King. Duke’s and Duchess were usually 1st or 2nd cousin’s.. And so on.. Monarchs were usually brother’s or sister’s or some other relative such as Nieces and Nephews in line for secession of the thrown. It was rumored that Anne and Henry were cousin’s. And so when he was trying to win her affection’s he gave her this title as a promise of sort’s. it was symbolic to everyone of Nobility to say’ I the King recognize Anne Boleyn as family and a successor to the Thrown of England by right of Royal decree. Otherwise he couldn’t have married her. A smooth move on Henry’s part so he could silence all the objection’s from his counsel that Anne was a commoner and could not be considered for marriage to the highest seat as Queen. Henry gave Anne many titles in his effort’s to show her she could trust him and to win her love. Because in fact it was her love he longed for all along. But like all self center spoiled King’s Henry fell out of love quicker than he fell in.. Or so he thought.. he suffered every day of the rest of his life mourning over Anne. He didn’t want to give the Privy counsel member’s the satisfaction of knowing they had wounded him so deeply by falsely accusing Anne of Treason. he wept hysterically over her conviction and subsequent execution. These men had worked tirelessly to find a reason to remove Anne as Queen even before she took the thrown. They along with the Pope and Spain plotted and calculated just how they’d get rid of her. Even going as far as poisoning her while she was pregnant. Killing her babies.. Had Elizabeth been a boy they’d have found a way to kill her too..

    1. BanditQueen says:

      What a rant! No-one plotted to kill Anne or her babies! She lost her babes through misforturne! It is doubtful anyone would have looked for a way to kill Elizabeth had she been Henry’s much needed son! Anne would have been too powerful had she given him a son for anyone to harm her! Henry may have given up sleeping with her had he fallen out of love with her and as she nagged him all the time that is possible; but he would still have had to honour her as mother of the heir to the throne in public at least. He may have been persuaded to find love elsewhere.

      Anne may have been given a very high and mighty title and the nobles where jealous of her as she and her family had taken power from them, and through exchange deals much of their lands. There is no evidence that the King of Spain plotted to kill Anne: Charles may have used his influence at the English Court to attempt to discredit Anne but it was Cromwell who hatched the plot against her and not the King or the Pope. There is no evidence either that the Pope attempted to kill her, her kids or Elizabeth at this time. Pope Paul may have declared a wish to get rid of her and who could blame him; she had disrupted the unity of the Catholic Church and Henry had gone mad over her, breaking with Rome and mistreating his true wife and daughter. In the eyes of Rome Anne Boleyn was a menace. But there is no evidence of any direct attempt to kill her. There is of course evidence later in the reign of Elizabeth that the Pope issued a Bull that declared her a heretic and excommunicated her and this allowed others to dispose of her from the throne. It does not give orders to kill her, but does state that anyone who does is not guilty of murder. That is a different set of circumstances. Anne may have been seen as a threat by the nobles of Henry’s court, but they found other legal ways to bring her down; and they could only have done so as she was not protected as the mother of Henry’s son.

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