On this day in history, 1st June 1533, Anne Boleyn was crowned Queen of England.

Preparations for the coronation began after the marriage of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon was pronounced invalid by Archbishop Cranmer on May 23rd 1533. The lavish celebrations which led up to Anne Boleyn’s coronation lasted an incredible four days and included a procession of barges, said to be 4 miles long, along the Thames from Greenwich to the Tower of London. The barge which carried Anne was dressed in luxurious gold cloth and as Anne disembarked 1,000 guns were fired from the Tower and other guns were fired from ships and the Limehouse.

(Video by TheBullen1, a history student)

31st May

On 31st May, Anne Boleyn left her apartments in the Tower of London and processed through the city to Westminster by chariot. Craft guilds and merchants lined the streets, lines of constables controlled the crowd and the houses of Cheapside were decorated with gold cloth, velvet and tissue and Cornhill and Gracechurch Street were decorated with carpets, tapestries, arras and cloths of crimson and scarlet.

The procession was led by the French ambassador’s twelve servants, who were dressed in blue velvet with sleeves of yellow and blue, and with hats decorated with white plumes. They rode on horses decorated in blue sarcenet with white crosses. These men were followed by the gentlemen of the Royal households, nine judges, the Knights of Bath, the Royal Council and the rest of England’s government. Behind this long procession of dignitaries, came Anne Boleyn in her litter of white and gold. A canopy of gold cloth was held over her by the barons of the Cinque Ports and underneath this canopy was Anne, dressed in white and wearing a golden coronet. Anne’s ladies, dressed in crimson, followed the litter and many more carriages and riders followed behind.

At Cheapside, it is said that Anne was received by the Mayor, aldermen and the Recorder of London who gave her a thousand marks of angel nobles in a purse as a gift from the city. Although it has long been said that the crowd were hostile towards Anne, who was already around 6 months months pregnant and could be seen to be usurping Catherine of Aragon’s place, Eric Ives points out that it is hard to assess what people really thought.

1st June

On 1st June 1533, Whit Sunday, Anne Boleyn was crowned Queen at Westminster Abbey. Anne arrived at around 9am, dressed in her coronation robes of ermine trimmed purple velvet with a coronet of gold on her head. As she walked along a blue carpeted route between the hall and the abbey’s altar, the golden canopy from the day before was carried over her and the dove topped rod of ivory and golden sceptre were carried before her. The Lord Great Chamberlain, Earl of Oxford, carried the crown of St Edward, which had only ever been used to crown the reigning monarch. Behind Anne, the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk carried her train and the bishops of London and Winchester processed, along with scarlet clad ladies.

In front of the staff of the Chapel Royal, the abbey monks, the choir, the peers in parliamentary robes, the court and the scarlet clad Mayor, judges and aldermen, Anne rested momentarily in St Edward’s Chair, before prostrating herself before the altar while Archbishop Cranmer prayed over her. After being anointed by the archbishop, Anne sat in St Edward’s Chair where she was crowned by Cranmer and given the sceptre and rod. Anne was able to exchange her crown for a lighter one, after the Te Deum, and then she took the sacrament, gave an offering at the shrine of the saint, refreshed herself and then processed back into Westminster Hall, via the clock tower and the five cisterns in New Palace Yard which were running with wine! It is said that the King watched the proceedings from behind a lattice work screen.

An exhausted Queen Anne then had to sit through a lavish coronation banquet, accompanied at her table only by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Her husband, the King, sat in a special private purpose built box which allowed him to view the banquet with the ambassadors of Venice and France.

On Monday 2nd June, it is reported that there were celebration jousts, balls and further banqueting.  It is not known exactly how much Henry VIII spent on Anne Boleyn’s coronation, but the Milanese Ambassador predicted that it cost the city of London around 200,000 ducats or £46,000 and that the king also paid around half that amount on top of that! Henry VIII was going seriously over the top to celebrate his new queen and the impending birth of what he thought would be a son and heir. You can see why he didn’t bother with a coronation for Jane Seymour!

(Source: Eric Ives’ “The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn”)

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