Anne’s arms from her copy of Le Pastor Evangelique

The arms of four of Henry VIII’s wives have always been controversial in the world of heraldry because Henry VIII granted Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr augmentations, going against the ‘norms’ of heraldry.

In “A Treatise on Heraldry, British and Foreign: With English and French Glossaries”, John Woodward and George Burnett give Anne Boleyn’s arms as an example of “the perversion of the true historical spirit of heraldry of which the reigns of Henry VIII and his immediate successors are only too full of examples”.1 In “Heraldry, Historical and Popular” Charles Boutell called Anne’s arms “a striking illustration of the degenerate condition of Heraldry under the Tudor Sovereign.”2

What was this perversion?

J.H. and R.V. Pinches point out in “The Royal Heraldry of England” that Anne Boleyn’s arms were “composed of those of the principal houses from which she was descended on her mother’s side, however remote”3 and also those of her father’s maternal family, the Butlers. Her father’s Boleyn arms, which were “Argent, a chevron gules between three bulls’ heads couped sable”, were completely omitted. Anne’s “supporters” were “Dexter, A leopard gorged with a royal Coronet pendant there from a chain reflexed over the back or; Sinister, A male griffin argent, armed and tufted or, Similarly gorged and chained.”4

The arms granted to Anne Boleyn in 1532 were “Quarterly of six; lst, England, a label of France (Duchy of Lancaster); 2nd, France ancient a label gules (Anjou-Naples); 3rd, Gales, a lion passant guardant or Acquitaìne); 4th, Quarterly, I and IV, Or, a chief indented azure (Butler), II and III, Argent, a lion rampant sable crowned gules (Rochford); 5th, England, a label argent (Thomas of Brotherton); 6th, Chequy or and azure (Warren).”5

Title page of Roland Hui’s replica of Anne Boleyn’s Coronation book

This “perversion” and “degeneration” of heraldry in Anne’s arms has been used by some6 as evidence that Anne Boleyn was ashamed of her paternal roots, the Boleyn family and their merchant background. However, we can’t make assumptions about Anne Boleyn’s feelings. Do we have evidence that she was ashamed of the Boleyns? No, we don’t.

Modern version of Boleyn family arms – these arms were not present on Anne Boleyn’s arms

More importantly, Anne Boleyn’s arms were not created by Anne, they were granted by Henry VIII when he made her Marquis of Pembroke in 15327 and the augmentations were also made by him. Although Woodward, Burnett and Boutell sneer at the “perversion” and “degeneration” of heraldry in Anne’s arms, they do not blame Anne in any way, they blame Henry VIII and talk of how his reign was full of such examples. Woodward and Burnett explain:

“Augmentations are additions made by the Sovereign to the coat of arms of an individual as a recognition of services rendered to the Prince or to the State; or merely as evidence of princely favour. They sometimes
take the form of additional quarterings; but more commonly consist of a chief, canton, or an escucheon to be
borne thenceforth as an integral part of the hereditary coat Many of them are exceedingly interesting as
historical memorials.”8

In his book, “A Complete Guide to Heraldry”, Arthur Charles Fox-Davies explains that “The Crown is the Fountain of Honour, having supreme control of coat-armour” and also that “the Sovereign, as the fountain of honour, can over-ride any rule or law of Arms”.9 Fox-Davies also says:

“To those who would still maintain that a man may invent arms for himself, I would point out (I) that Henry V. decreed that arms borne without authority were to be stripped off and broken up. Charles (Brandon), Duke of Suffolk, Earl Marshal (1524-1534), ordered ‘that none shall enterprise to beare anie signs or tokens of arms, etc., withoute they be authorised so to do.’ Henry VIII., Philip and Mary, Elizabeth, Charles I. and Charles II., all in their Commissions commanding Visitations to be made, and in other Warrants and Orders, decreed that false arms were to be defaced; the Kings of Arms made those disclaim who would not rectify their arms.”10

Modern version of Anne Boleyn’s arms

Anne Boleyn was not queen when her arms were created, she was a commoner being raised to be a marquis and she had no right or authority to commission arms, Henry VIII would have done so from the College of Arms.

I cannot say 100% that shame had nothing to do with the Boleyn arms being omitted from Anne Boleyn’s arms, but it is more likely, seeing that the arms were Henry VIII’s responsibility, that he wanted to emphasise Anne’s noble heritage. Henry VIII was raising Anne Boleyn to be Marquis of Pembroke to make her a worthy consort and to fit her for the couple’s upcoming visit to Calais, a visit which they hoped would see Francis I give their proposed marriage his support and blessing. Henry VIII was trying to annul his marriage to a Spanish princess and replace her with a ‘commoner’ so it was important to emphasise Anne’s descent from the Howards and Butlers, the lines which gave her royal blood and nobility.

Henry VIII may have broken some of the established rules governing heraldry but then, as heraldry expert Peter de Lisle11 explained to me, Henry, as King, was “the font of all honour” and could do whatever he wanted. Henry VIII granted Coats of Augmentation to all his English wives – Catherine of Aragon and Anne of Cleves didn’t need them as they were already noble enough – and although Anne’s arms were unusual, in that her paternal arms were omitted, Henry VIII and the heralds were in charge of Anne’s arms, not Anne.

So, should we assume from Anne’s arms that she was ashamed of her roots?

No, of course not. We cannot even assume that Henry was ashamed of Anne’s roots, he was simply emphasising that which made her a worthy consort in the eyes of the people. Christopher Wordsworth, editor of “Ecclesiastical Biography, Or, Lives of Eminent Men, Connected with the History of Religion in England” (1853), came up with another theory for the omission of the Boleyn bull on Anne’s arms. He wrote that it was “from a probable desire, on the part of Henry, to nullify the coarse allusion in the proverb repeated by Wolsey”12, the Dun Cow prophecy:

“When the cow rideth the bull,
Then, priest, beware thy scull.”

George Cavendish, Cardinal Wolsey’s gentleman usher, wrote of how the cow represented the King and the bull represented Anne Boleyn:

“For this cow the king gave as one of his beasts appertaining of antiquity unto his earldom of Richmond, which was his ancient inheritance; this prophecy was after expounded in this wise. This dun cow, because it was the king’s beast, betokened the king; and the bull betokened Mistress Anne Boleyn, which was after queen, because that her father, Sir Thomas Boleyn, gave the same beast in his cognisance. So that when the king had married her, the which was then unknown to my lord, or to any other at that time, then was this prophecy thought of all men to be fulfilled. For what a number of priests, both religious and secular, lost their heads for offending of such laws as were then made to bring this [marriage] to effect…”13

An interesting theory and at least it credits Henry with the omission, and not Anne.

Conclusion – Another Boleyn Myth

We cannot know Anne’s feelings on the subject, they are not recorded and we cannot ‘assume’ anything.

My own feeling, seeing as his wife’s arms were down to Henry VIII as King (and the College of Arms), is that the idea that the omission of the Boleyn bull from Anne Boleyn’s arms is evidence of her shame is a load of ‘bull’ – sorry, just had to say that! Remember, arms were, at the end of the day, a form of propaganda.

This one gets our Boleyn Myth stamp.

Next Time

The next article in this series will continue the theme of Anne Boleyn being ashamed of her roots and will examine the claim that Anne Boleyn commissioned a fabricated family tree.

Notes and Sources

  1. “A Treatise on Heraldry, British and Foreign: With English and French Glossaries”, John Woodward and George Burnett, (1892), p529
  2. “Heraldry, Historical and Popular”, Charles Boutell, (1864), p309
  3. “The Royal Heraldry of England”, J.H. and R.V. Pinches, (1974), p144
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. “The daring truth about Anne Boleyn: cutting through the myth”, Sylwia Zupanec, (2012)
  7. Ibid., “Ecclesiastical Biography: Or, Lives of Eminent Men, Connected with the History of Religion in England”, Christopher Wordsworth, (1853), p613, notes on Cavendish’s record of Wolsey.
  8. Woodward and Burnet, p528
  9. “A Complete Guide to Heraldry”, Arthur Charles Fox-Davies, (1909), pix, p27
  10. “The Right to Bear Arms”, Arthur Charles Fox-Davies, (1900), p199
  11. Peter de Lisle, European Heraldry
  12. Wordsworth, p613
  13. Ibid., “The Life of Cardinal Wolsey, Volume 1”, George Cavendish, p234


In addition to those sources listed above:

  • “Bagford’s Notes on Bookbindings”, p128 in “Transactions of the Bibliographical Society of Great Britain: Volume VII”, October, 1902, to March, 1904
  • Anne Boleyn’s Heraldry
  • “English Heraldry”, Charles Boutell, (1867)
  • “A History of the College of Arms, and the Lives of All the Kings, Heralds, and Pursuivants from the Reign of Richard III”, Rev. Mark Noble, (1804)
  • Modern version of Boleyn Family arms -NinjaKid (Ollie Martin), 2012.
  • Modern version of Anne Boleyn’s arms as queen – Sodacan, Coat of Arms of Queen Anne Boleyn, 8 October 2010,

Related Post

49 thoughts on “Boleyn Myth 1 – Anne Boleyn’s Arms are Evidence that Anne was Ashamed of Her Boleyn Roots”
  1. This is a prime example of certain authors using anything at their disposal in order to demonise the Boleyns, particularly Anne and Thomas, while conveniently overlooking the logic, as documented here, because it doesn’t fit into the picture they are trying to portray i.e. that Henry ordered the coat of arms ‘against the norms of heraldry’, and not only for Anne, but for 3 of his other wives as well.
    I’m looking forward to your other articles, Claire. I have absolute confidence that you will eventually you will put these ridiculous myths to rest.

    1. None of the heraldry experts blame Anne for her coat of arms, they all put the blame on Henry VIII for his disregard of the standards. Even that is silly in a way, as Peter de Lisle pointed out to me, because the King was the font of all honour and could do what he wanted.

      This is going to be a rather long series and will include all types of myths, legends, assumptions and theories regarding the Boleyns – should be fun!

    2. We have to entertain the idea of the Borgia Bull and that strong forge of catholic bond. I am so greatful I’m not alone in bring obsessed with Anne and the Tufors. Some friends probably think I’m mad and boring do thank you to all of my friends from this page, it’s truely wonderful to have you all to talk to. If Anne’s birth was roughly 1507 her family’s views on Rome and “it’s corrupt church” could have made no one trying to bring forth a new religion want to display a bull on their arms.

  2. Hello Claire,

    Anne has always been made to look like a witch, a temptress, a whore, a scheming manipulative woman who would do anything to get what she wanted….

    quite clearly here she didn’t have any control over her arms & it was Henry who made the unusual changes quite simply because he could, he was King & could do what he liked.

    He proved that when he cast aside Catherine & broke away from Rome in his long pursuit of Anne.

      1. I must agree with Julie and Claire,more then any ,Queen Anne was allways trash talked? I don’t think she had anything to be shamed,a Queen held her head high . Regards Baroness

        1. I have been told I come from royal blood and am attempting to locate exactly how. One member if our family did a small look into it and I don’t know how thou tough she was but one line actually points to pope Paul I I and even though Margaret Thatcher isn’t necessarily considered royal blood somehow I’m related to her as well. My family has a Thatcher Coat of Arms I have newspaper clippings from the 50’s with our coat of arms proudly displayed in the Sslt Lake Tribune, since my family owned Thatcher Chemical in Utah. I will let you know more when I find out but I have a small book lignaggio del sangue from the 18th century. I am trying to track the book now. Thanks again your website is amazing and I look up to you highly.

    1. Claire,I had to add this to replys looking at the 3 bulls, just seems like more a insult ,a slape in the face? I never have seen code of arms portrayed in such a manner as arms ,that look more like a bull crossing sign,in open range now in our time .I lived out west this was common,also why 3 bulls? THX Baroness

  3. Great Article!
    I would like to point out that through her Howard roots Anne Boleyn is a descendant of King Edward I. I don’t know too much about the Boleyn side, but I know on the Howard side, there are several different ways she is descended through several kings of England. I am also a descendant of the Howard family, so that’s the only way I know this! But, to me, it seems she was not making up a fabricated family tree, like some historians like to say.

    1. Hi Kate,
      That’s actually going to be in my next article and Anne was descended from Edward I through the Howards and the Butlers, so plenty of royal blood. How wonderful that you descend from the Howards! I’ve just opened up a thread on the forum on genealogy/family trees for people to post about their family trees, so do join in.

      1. Claire, If Anne had royal blood why would you write “Anne Boleyn was not queen when her arms were created, she was a commoner being raised to be a marquis and she had no right or authority to commission arms,….” ?
        Anne’s father was a Lord was he not?

        1. Anne Boleyn was from an important family, coming from the Butlers of Ireland and the Howards, but she was a commoner in that she was not born of the nobility. She was not of the noble class.

  4. I actually hadn’t heard this ‘myth’ before, about Anne being ashamed of her roots, so this was doubly interesting Claire.

    Like you say, no one can assume to know why the Arms were designed as they were,. Henry did seem to like things to ‘Look the Part’, so it would seem he have the major say in this, nor can it be assumed Anne had any input into the design. I wonder if Henry had her approval on them though, or if he did it as a surprize for her…these things we will never know I suppose, but there are those then and now, that take what we don’t know and make it into a negative thing, rather than a possitive one, this is how myths come about.

    I actually can not imagine Anne being ashamed of her family roots, she came from Howard stock, a very noble family through history, they fell out of favour along the way at times, but what notable family didn’t.

    Well deserved of the ‘Boleyn Myth’ stamp….next please!! 🙂

  5. Hi Claire,
    Great post, as always! I was not aware of this myth, either, so it was quite interesting. I am fascinated by all this heraldry stuff and would really like a more general piece about it in and of itself–in case you run out of things to do! Your argument makes a great deal of sense–Henry was replacing a Spanish princess with a commoner so naturally he would want to emphasize her best attributes. Thanks again!

    1. Heraldry is fascinating. I tried to avoid getting sucked into the symbolism of the various animals and emblems, but that’s interesting too.

  6. I read the Secrect Diary of Anne Bolyn and I’ll never understand why she married Henry 8 when he fathered 2 children with her sister Mary, plus he fathered children with other mistresses. I think I would have Henry 8 castrated instead of marrying him if I were one of his five wives.

    1. The book you read is a work of fiction. There is no evidence that he fathered any children with Mary. If he did, I would imagine that he would have recognized at least Henry Carey, as he did Henry FitzRoy, his son with Bessie Blount. Also, Henry had 6 wives, not 5.

      Claire has many wonderful articles addressing the matter of Mary Carey and her children, Catherine and Henry.

      Be careful when reading historical based fiction. A lot of the information in those book are written with a lot of literary liscense taken for the purpose of creating a plot, conflict, and resolution. Take “The Other Boleyn Girl”- Elizabeth was not raised by her aunt, but rather by Lady Bryan, and later Kat Ashley.

  7. Ok, I agree that in the end it was the King and heralds who had the final say. I just think it’s odd that they had to go back so many generations to put forth her lineage (through her paternal grandmother and maternal side that descended from Edward I). “Henry VIII was trying to annul his marriage to a Spanish princess and replace her with a ‘commoner’ so it was important to emphasise Anne’s descent from the Howards and Butlers, the lines which gave her royal blood and nobility.” She was a commoner by birth; just like the other English wives. So it’s odd to some that she was granted such grand arms. The arms were from ancestors 6-7 generations back and further removed. For example, the arms of Aquitaine pertain to her 10x great-grandmother Eleanor of Aquitaine — she is the closest ancestor coming from Aquitaine nobility. With the Anjou-Naples coat of arms, she didn’t descend from that house at all so how could that be part of the arms, especially if they were French? What prompted that to be added? I suppose it was to up one; to present her as worthy to marry a King of England — yet Elizabeth Woodville had quarterings that represented her father and mother. I suppose she wasn’t up against a Spanish princess, a daughter of Isabella of Castile, but her marriage still stirred controversy as she was a commoner. I just find it interesting that the other English wives kept close to their family arms and Anne’s arms did not. Some people would actually like to know why those were specifically chosen when she wasn’t the daughter of say Thomas of Brotherton, etc.

    1. I think it would also have been odd to some that she was created Marquis of Pembroke, a very bold move by Henry. Very definite messages that Henry was sending to the people and completely fascinating for us today.

      ” I just find it interesting that the other English wives kept close to their family arms and Anne’s arms did not” – It is interesting, but we need to remember that it was not down to the wives, it was Henry and the College of Arms who were responsible for their arms and Henry could do what he liked. I wonder how they decided on the arms they chose for Anne… fascinating, I love heraldry.

      1. Correct, I agree. I love heraldry as well. Being created Marquess of Pembroke was a bold move — it was huge because a creation like that had never been made before, for a person of that stature that is. Of course we see it quite frequently afterwards in the Stuart reign with the mistresses.

      2. Claire
        I just want to Complement you again on this wonderful website it’s always packed with tons of new and great information. I look forward very much to hearing your responses to and being related to Edward I. For I have also done a lot of research on this. The Earl of Surrey probably wore on his Heraldy The arms of Edward the confessor. Which I’m sure you know he was very much Chasitised for, and When he was going through court was actually interrogated very much on this fact. Even though we know through history that he was in fact a descendent of Edward I and him being Annes first uncle. Through the Howard blood line
        Edward the confessor was definitely somebody that our Anne was not without right to display on her coat of arms. But like we’ve talked about and like what’s been brought up before and had no control over what was put on her coat of arms. I think one thing that we all forget to remember Is that Anne was very much the pioneer of everything and anything that was new. And I know that she would not want to hurt her titling anyway by either rejecting or excepting whatever Henry was putting on her coat of arms. And was our pioneer and while the other wives coats of arms changed a little bits Henry had to specifically make hers very Big and pompous to make sure that no one question the validity of his marriage to Anne and not to Catherine of Aragon. Large things were at stake with Anne including a huge one of the validity of her marriage and the legitimacy of Elizabeth. Anne changed things forever, and she had enough royal blood pumping through her to stake her own claim, I think The last thing on Anne’s mind was Heraldy. But like Claire says we don’t know how she felt. Probably a tad like a moth to a flame. Coats of arms were indeed very important, but in Anne and Henry’s reign I would bet they were made more just to strictly impress, validate, and show the other lands her importance to the English crown. Also, with Henry’s break from the sea if Rome a good reason Anne probably didnt have Edward the Confessor on her arms was because he was so close to the catholic faith that it might seem hypocritical for Henry to order that on her arm. Henry Howard earl of surrey wore it and people were not pleased

        1. One more thing. The Borgias infamous symbol was the bull. Do you think that Henry didnt want the bull on there to not be associated with the corrupt Pope Alexander and the sea of Rome?

      3. Hello again Claire
        I am sorry I’m anxious. I am indeed a huge Dan as I am sure you can see by my many posts, I am obsessed with Tudor dynasty. I am trying to keep to this subject. Something I read today, talked quite a bit about Anne’s coat of arms. And something I read talked of her fathers line and his symbol being a gorged black panther. And Anne of course her falcon, that we see in tons of Anne’s things. Relics and artifacts that we have seen in items that were gifts to Anne (such as the ornate gold clock that Henry had made for her I believe for a New Years gift.)And other Artifacts. I hope one day to be able to see all this in person, I read all day consuming this era and have very high respect for you. And your unbiased thoughts. Shedding light into the darkest of places illuminates this whole period for me. I also was curious when the unicorn came into effect as part of the Tudor Heraldy , that holds up the goat of arms with the lion. Thank you fit all you do. I will never tire of learning more of all this, and hope one day to afford your wonderful books.

        1. Lady Brooke,

          That’s an interesting idea, that similarities to other CoA might have affected Henry’s decisions; however, the timing is off in this case.

          The Borgia coat of arms was a red bull on a gold background with 8 red flames around the border. But Pope Alexander VI died in 1503 and by the time Henry was seeking his annulment and marrying Anne, all the main Borgias were dead. The main popes involved in Henry’s Great Matter were Julius II (who gave the okay for Henry and Katherine’s marriage) and Clement VII (who held the Holy See during most of the Great Matter years).

          As an aside, have you been catching the tv series, The Borgias? We’ve just watched the first season and I look forward to more of it (big Jeremy Irons fan here).


        2. Lisa,
          Yes! I love the Borgia’s as well. Your probably right about the Borgia bull not having a thing to do with Anne, necessarily. But we do not what his relationship was like with Henry Vii. If that relationship was lacking or in fulfilled, who knows. We also know that Thomas Boleyn had a lot to go with other courts because he was the ambassador to a few if them during Borgia reign. Henry vii, dealt with him frequently because of the papacy. I love that show also. God, what if one of them inadvertently upset the other, even the bardic symbol of a bulls head could have have somehow been burned into Henry vii mind, and possibly into Henry viii from teachings of his father. Who knows, I’m just speculating. Of anyone knows what the Borgia pope and Henry vii relationship was like I would love to hear it. But I agree with you Lisa, unless there was some huge upset 1450-1501 between the realms, then Anne’s arms probably based on what Henry viii felt he needed to add to them. I love this!
          Lady Brooke Ipson

  8. I would also like to add that I don’t think anyone is trying to insult Anne here. Myself (and I’m NOT Sylwia), I am just trying to better understand Anne — and from the view of the actual court that she reigned in. I am now looking at Anne in every possible source available, not just the favorable ones. If you really want to get to know the full story you have to read it all and continue researching for the rest of your life. I really wish you wouldn’t knit pick this book. It’s seems odd to continue this. You have already made it clear that you do not agree with the book, but you now want to spend all this time on the specific claims within the book? Bit by bit? It’s rather odd. Can’t we just agree to disagree and stop this? It’s not worth it. People will buy the book regardless and it should be up to them to make their own decision. I honestly look at something that I do not like — write one long blog and then I’m done with the issue (if it is unfavorable towards someone I love in history).

    1. I don’t think anyone is trying to insult Anne, I just don’t think that we can take Anne’s arms as evidence that she was ashamed of her roots, which is the theory that one author has put forward and that happens to be Sylwia Zupanec. I don’t agree at all. I’m not “knit pick”ing this book, I don’t agree with a point raised in it and therefore have cited it and produced my argument. I don’t agree with many theories, authors, historians – I regularly cite Warnicke, Weir, Bernard… – so why are you seeing me as attacking this book and author? This is part of a series of posts on myths, theories, inaccuracies, representations, e.g. George Boleyn being gay, Anne being a witch, Henry VIII and Elizabeth Howard etc. etc. and I’m going to be mentioning many authors, historians, chroniclers, as you do in your posts and as Sylwia has done in her book. It’s what we all do. I know that you get annoyed when online articles make mistakes with genealogy etc. so you challenge that. We challenge and discuss things we don’t believe are backed up by evidence.

      I think I’ve mentioned Sylwia in three blog posts – not many. Her book is recent and it’s on Anne Boleyn, I have to talk about it, otherwise it would be weird. When Bernard published his book, I discussed that. I’m sure if there was a new book on Catherine Parr/Jane Seymour etc. saying things you didn’t agree with then you’d be blogging about those theories. I run an Anne Boleyn site and I blog about theories about Anne Boleyn, I discuss books about Anne Boleyn so how can I ignore a book raising points that many people don’t agree with. It would be more odd if I completely ignored it. I didn’t agree with points Weir made about the Boleyns in her Mary Boleyn book so I wrote posts about it, I don’t agree with Warnicke’s views on George and the men so I’ve written posts about it, I don’t agree with Weir’s view on Jane Boleyn, so I wrote about it….

      I’m assuming that Sylwia wrote her book to share her theories and to provoke discussion, that’s why people in the history world publish isn’t it, so let’s discuss. People don’t agree with points I make on my blog and in my books, but that’s what history is all about.

      “People will buy the book regardless and it should be up to them to make their own decision” I think people should buy it and I’ve never said anything to the contrary. I don’t agree with Bernard’s book but I still recommend people buy it, it’s important to look at all views and theories when you’re researching a subject.I buy everything that comes out on Anne and I suspect that most people who follow this site do too. It’s why I linked to the book on my Facebook page when it was released, so I don’t understand what I’m being accused of here????

      1. P.S. “I am now looking at Anne in every possible source available, not just the favorable ones” – Exactly what I do every day. I’ve been studying Anne Boleyn, the Boleyn family and Tudor history for over four years full-time now and I look at all sources with an onus on primary sources, regardless of whether they are favourable or not. That’s what my job is and I love it.

        1. I am not one to go into researching history a great deal, i watched the series the Tudors and loved it, when I found this website I have been fasinated with your posts and how much they have enlightened me and given me a more lateral look at Anne Boleyn and Henry viii. Thank you and keep up the great work, I love reading all the blogs.

    2. Why should disagreeing with a theory be seen as an attack on an author? Many people don’t agree with Helen Castor’s views on Edward III and Isabella of France, many don’t agree with Alison Weir’s views on Richard III, and they write about them but they are not attacking those authors.

      Claire, do you have a list of what you’ll be addressing in this series of posts? Can you share?

      1. The list includes:
        Anne, her roots and family tree
        The idea that she was “corrupted” before she married Henry
        George – Sexuality, theory that he had an illegitimate child
        The men – Was Anne surrounded by a group of “libertines”
        Anne’s appearance
        Anne’s personality – not an angel/saint
        Anne and the death of Catherine of Aragon and poisoning of Bishop Fisher etc.
        Anne and Mary Boleyn
        Elizabeth Howard – myth that she died when Anne was young, her relationship with Henry VIII
        Thomas Boleyn – pimp?
        Anne and witchcraft
        The Boleyn Ground/Boleyn Castle
        Anne and the Tower – imprisonment, execution, resting place
        Anne’s faith
        Love life before Henry
        Anne and George
        Her remains
        Anne’s possessions.
        Anne, Catherine and Mary
        Deformed foetus

        That’s just my rough list.

        I don’t intend to attack anyone and I can’t understand why disagreeing with a theory is being blown up into something that it’s not.

  9. I find the statement that Anne’s arms were altered to make her worthy as a Queen consort in the eyes of the PEOPLE interesting – which people are being referred to here, the nobility, the growing middle class or the commoners?

    I think it is likely that Henry might have altered Anne’s arms to emphasize her noble background to show that she was just as worthy to sit the throne as a Queen as Katharine of Aragon, who was connected to some VERY powerful foreign houses. Henry did this not only to impress the English, which ever class of people is referred to here, but also to the rest of Europe, including allies and potential enemies, such as the Spanish and the Holy Roman Empire, two of Katharine of Aragon’s prime supporters.

  10. I have my own views as well as my own theories too as to why this was done but it must have taken the “King” and his “Herods”. “Heralds” an awful somewhat long time in the process as they had to go back so far just to create “Anne’s” coat of arms.A very long time.Interesting though just like as she had been titled a “Marquis” instead of a “Marchioness”.

  11. Anne was not the kind of woman whom would be ashmed because of something so simple as Roots amd Heraldry. I know her to be very proud of being a Bullen’ . She may not had been from a GREAT house as it happens with princess and duchess,whatever it was good enough to put her in the noble society. Just to remember that girls invited to be a part of the lady-waiting should be from a good house. She proprabaly trusted Henry to care about this part as it really was his jog.
    I imagine that for them that was a time of great joy indeed!

    1. That’s actually a good point that I’ve never thought of. She clearly emphasised her Boleyn roots and didn’t shy away from them. She wore a B necklace. That doesn’t denote shame to me.

  12. Interesting stuff — I knew that the bulls’ heads were omitted from her arms but hadn’t heard the hypothesis that that meant she was ashamed of them. I do think that Wordsworth’s theory is on the weak side, however — there’s no way to know how common that proverb was, and also, Cavendish goes on to say that “Before it was brought to pass, there was not the wisest prophesier could perfectly discuss it, as it is now come to effect and purpose. Trust therefore (be mine advice) to no dark riddles and prophecies …” At the time Henry granted Anne her arms, the “prophecy” hadn’t been fulfilled yet and it doesn’t seem like the proverb was generally taken as referring to him until after his marriage and the executions of the religious.

  13. There is no evidence to say that Anne had been ashamed of her roots hence the “Boleyn” name it is just merely ones guess.Everybody is entitled to ones opinion no matter how right or how wrong it is or the are.Only the “King” and the “Heralds” would know at the end of the day but sadly they cannot be asked can they… ?!

  14. Claire,

    Thank you for another interesting article! I so enjoyed reading this, for I did not know anything about Anne’s arms and how they were created. I just knew she was given her heraldry when she became a marquis.

    Love learning new things!

  15. a inspirational woman forever changing our lives….

    a inspiratori mulier aeternum mutans animabus nostris.

      1. Thank you Baroness, it is a beautiful saying I love hearing or reading things in Latin. To me it’s the most beautiful language. And with all of Anne’s intelligence, I like to imagine her from time to time reading a book in Latin, since most books, I believe, but could be wrong, we’re still written in Latin. I live reading your posts, and I live being a part if a group who is in just as much admiration, as I am.
        Lady Brooke

  16. Fascinating article,Claire. This makes me want to learn more about Heraldry. And I agree with your overall theory that Anne’s Coat of Arms is not adequate proof of Anne being ashamed of her roots. Another thing I wanted to add was to the subject was that of Anne’s famous B necklace. In my opinion, the fact she wore a bold B for Boleyn around her neck is another testimonial fact that Anne was certainly not ashamed of her roots.

  17. Miladyblue,,That’s I was thinking.It was a way for Henry to make Anne more acceptable to the common folk. I do have a book on Hearldry at home and the subject is very interesting. A distant cousin sent me a copy of the family coat of arms from Siebmacher’s Wappenbuch. On the helm or helmet sits a coronet for the untitled nobility.And from the helmet rise these two wings one on each side and each bears a single fleur de lille. The shield is divided in half.The left side shows half an eagle.The right side of the shield is divided in half horizontally in the middle.The upper half again shows a single fleur de lille like on the wings and the bottom half has these bars running at a diagonal. Would love to know what it all means;especially the fluer de lille since our family is german but they may have also held some land in Alsace-Lorraine or in France near the German border at one time.
    I think Henry did it to prove Anne was worthy to be queen.

  18. Is there a connection between the Bullen coat of arms and the Bull coat of arms? Anne was my 1st cousin 14x. Her mother Elizabeth was my 14th Great Aunt. My mother was a Howard.

    I am doing research of the Bull family of Kingshurst. I am at an end (so far) in the 14th Century.
    Trying to determine if Bullen and Bull are connected. Both family crests have 3 bull heads.

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