Thanks to historian, Suzannah Lispcombe, for reminding me of this “on this day in history” event today. Yes, on this day in history, 18th April 1536, the Imperial Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, was tricked into recognising the woman he called “the concubine” as Queen.
Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn
On the Tuesday after Easter, the 18th April 1536, Chapuys was due to meet the King at Greenwich. The ambassador arrived and was met by George Boleyn and Thomas Cromwell, who brought him a message from the King, who asked him to visit Anne Boleyn and kiss her hand. Chapuys excused himself because, as Eric Ives points out, “that was going too far, too fast”, and, in Chapuys’s own words, it “would not be advisable”. He could not bring himself to kiss the hand of “the Concubine” and recognise her as Queen. So, George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, conducted Chapuys to mass, carefully placing the ambassador behind the door through which Anne would enter. Anne Boleyn, who was accompanying her husband to mass, knew exactly where Chapuys was and so stopped as she entered, swung round to him and bowed, Chapuys was forced to do likewise. He bowed to the Queen. Henry and Anne had got what they wanted, recognition of Anne’s status.

Anne Boleyn, of course, had no way of knowing that in a month’s time she would be imprisoned in the Tower of London, waiting to die. What a huge fall!

It is clear that in mid April 1536, just 2 weeks before Anne’s arrest, Henry VIII was still pushing for Anne to be recognised as his wife and rightful queen. Does this show that he was still committed to Anne? Why force Chapuys into recognising a woman you’re going to discard? Is this evidence that Henry VIII was not involved in plotting against Anne Boleyn or is it just evidence of his fickle nature? What do you think?

Also on this day in history…

  • 18th April 1540 – King Henry VIII made Thomas Cromwell Earl of Essex, just 3 months before he was executed after being found guilty of treason, heresy, corruption and more!
  • 18th April 1587 – John Foxe, the English historian and martyrologist, died aged around 70. He is known for his book “Actes and Monuments”, commonly known as “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs”, an account of Christian martyrs throughout history, with particular emphasis on the Protestant martyrs who died during the reign of Mary I. His famous book can be read at Project Gutenberg, see


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9 thoughts on “Chapuys Bows to Queen Anne Boleyn”
  1. I’ve always found it unbelievable (or should I say, incredible) how often Henry ‘rewarded’ those in his inner circle shortly before their downfall either with titles or things like the incident above.

    I think his getting Chapuys to acknowledge Anne is not at all an indication of his innocence in her imprisonment and subsequent execution but rather a clear sign of how often his desire for having his own way in the end was put above whatever else his plans might have been. He had to have the last laugh and he simply couldn’t allow himself or his Queen to be slighted by Chapuys whether she’d be queen for long afterward or no!

  2. I have to agree with Jade, too much can be read into this regarding Henry’s innocence in the plots against Anne, or indeed as evidence of Henry’s fickle nature (granted, ever increasing since his accident). I believe it is more to do with Henry’s ego and being on a power trip, in getting Chapuys to bow to Anne he was also getting him to bow (literally) to his will, insomuch as Henry desired Chapuys to recognise Anne. The fact that this also benefitted Anne was coincidental, it was all about what Henry desired to happen here and now, what he desired in the future had no bearing in the present.

    1. I think you (and Jade) are absolutely correct. That Henry was on a power trip, independently of what he felt about Anne, is shown (IMO) by his treatment of Mary after Anne’s execution. Mary’s submission could have limited, if any, bearing on the succession, as Elizabeth had also been bastardized (and, even a legitimately born daughter … as Mary saw herself … would be displaced by a legitimately born son); but he threatened to kill her, anyway, until and unless she gave in.

  3. I personally think that Henry VIII took decisions in a split of a second, he acted impulsively, so in April he could have felt love for Anne and then in May he could have taken the decision that he had had enough… So, I don’t think making Chapuys aknowledge the Queen is a proof of Henry’s innocence.. He was so unpredictable and could turn against his friends and allies really quickly.

    I am sad when I think that Anne must have felt somehow reassured by this incident, it’s a pity that just a month later she was preparing herself for her execution..

  4. I have often wondered about this and am not sure if Henry was on a power trip or so fickle that one his feelings for Anne changed so quickly. Or maybe it is both.

  5. I just find it ironic that on this day in history Chapuys finally recognises Anne Boleyn as Queen, nearly three years that took! Slow very slow. Odd. It was obviously an arrangement and a set up. Also I find it ironic that it would only a few weeks later that Anne would be arrested on a trumped up charge of treason alongside and alon with her brother and four other males. Sigh. Talk about ironicy coincidency and barbaric.

    I think that Hnery was just unpredicterble in himself and his way of thinking, he could be your friend one minuite, one day and your enemy the next and like a previous blogger said he did seem to have a tendency to show favour to those he most hated or disliked for some reason, well to those he liked too, again odd. He was just an odd man I think from start to finsh, from beggining to end. Harsh and bloodthirsty. It was those who were the most closest to the king *Him* that suffered the most harshest.

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