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Did Anne Boleyn have any pets?

Posted By on March 1, 2019

In my latest “Questions about Anne Boleyn” video, I am answering the question “Did Anne Boleyn have any pets?”.

In an age when exotic pets like monkeys were popular with royalty, what animals did Queen Anne Boleyn keep and what do we know about them? I look at what the contemporary sources tell us about Anne Boleyn’s pets.

This video was partly inspired by the fact that my own pets keep making cameo appearances in my videos and for those of you who are animal lovers, I introduce my pets at the end.

I do hope you enjoy these videos. Please do consider subscribing to the Anne Boleyn Files and Tudor Society YouTube channel. I am doing “on this day in Tudor history” videos every day and I’m doing regular Boleyn-themed videos too. I am also intending to do further live events in the future.

10 thoughts on “Did Anne Boleyn have any pets?”

  1. Michael Wright says:

    Hi Claire. First off, either Oreo or Ariadne made an appearance behind you coming down the stairs. This was such an excellent question about Anne. I had never given this any thought but it was interesting to find out that she had two dogs. I am sorry to hear that her little dog died under tragic circumstances. Most of us can relate to how devastating that is to lose a beloved pet.

    Thank you so much for sharing those wonderful pictures of your pets. Must be quite an entertaining household with all those family members.

  2. My thoughts exactly, Michael. The most spoiled cat in Christendom, Honey, lives with us

  3. Michael Wright says:

    All kitties are spoiled. They demand it and wouldn’t have it any other way.

  4. Christine says:

    Claire it is such a treat seeing your beautiful pets and thankyou for allowing us the pleasure, I too read in Ives book that Anne loved little Purkoy and that Lady Lisle, who sounds a pushy sort of woman, was forever trying to butter up Anne by sending her gifts, it makes me smile to consider today the uproar that would commence if someone sent Kate or Meghan a gift of say a pigeon, or a duck the purpose of it to be consumed at meal time, back to Annes pets yes I have heard the awful screeching sound a peacock makes, which fits oddly with their stunning presence, the male peacock of course is the one with the splendour, the peahen is brown and a drab little bird, I can well understand if she was trying to catch forty winks and every now and then she would be disturbed by the strange sounds and the pelican as well, however the linnet bird is quite different and she adored the delightful sound it made, she does appear to have favoured dogs they say you are either a cat or a dog person, I am both having lived with cats and dogs, and I know I sound lazy but I prefer to have cats as pets as they are far easier, you don’t have to take them out in rotton weather and they are so clean and quiet too, there are no records of Anne Boleyn owning any cats, Henry V111 owned a cat and several hunting dogs, I can imagine the scene where the irate farmers cow was savaged by his greyhounds, I’m sure the King was very contrite and I can just see the farmer waving his pitchfork angrily at him, though of course he would not, it reminds me of the scene in Carry on Henry, Sid James playing of course the king, and he was caught in the hay with the farmers daughter, the farmer not knowing who he was picked up his pitchfork or gun and chased him out of his barn, but for the farmer of course his animals were his livelihood and so Henry did the decent thing and paid him, I should imagine his dogs caused quite a bit of havoc they were purely bred for hunting, they must have been forever sniffing round the stables at mice and foxes, as for the monkeys, I think their fantastic so very human like and they are so comical, but I should imagine they are an extremely dangerous pet to own, they appear uncontrollable and at the Tudor court, must have been forever leaving naughty surprises everywhere, the marmoset monkeys are the miniature variety one which appears in Katherines portait, Henrys first queen and which I mentioned in the earlier post, but as we know his second queen hated them, I don’t think we know what actually happened to Purkoy, except he fell possibly from a great distance as it killed him, and everyone dreaded telling poor Anne as they knew how taken she was with him, it is dreadful when one loses a pet, we never forget them as they are one of the family, and each pet has their own character, just like people, dogs especially are extremely devoted to their owners, the tale of how the little dog who refused to leave the dead body of its mistress, Mary Queen Of Scots is tantamount to that, also the saddest story I ever read about relating to a dog and his owner, was that of a fighter pilot in the Second World War, every time his owner would climb into his plane he would see him go and stay at the same spot till he returned, one day he never did and his faithful friend refused to leave, he waited and waited for him to return, despite all attempts he would not leave and he never ate and pined away and died, unconditional love is what a pet gives its owner.

  5. Banditqueen says:

    The loss of any pet is devastating and Anne must have been really upset at the death of Purkoy, although Lady Lisle would be even more upset as the dog was hers first and she had to give him up. In Wolfe Hall, of course with typical Hilary Mantel nonsense, the dog was poisoned and fell from the window. Anne sees this as an attempt on her and the dog being poisoned by mistake. Novelist licence of course.

    So no monkeys or loud peacocks if one goes back in time to visit Anne Boleyn. I stayed somewhere once and there was a peacock in the grounds, so yes, beautiful to look at, not to listen to in the morning. The song bird must have sounded very sweet and lovely. Lady Lisle really was trying hard to get her girls into the new Queen’s service. Didn’t she send them to Queen Jane as well?

  6. Christine says:

    Hi Bq yes I believe she did, she was always trying to get her girls into the queens household, and of course as with Anne the gifts were a bribe, also I think she sent her a gift of quails when she was pregnant as she heard Jane had a craving for them, later on Jane did take the youngest of Lady Lisle’s daughters into her service.

  7. Desiree says:

    Was the dog’s name not pronounced the French way? Pourqoui? As Anne did spent time at the French court? Or did they really call it Purkoy as some sort of joke/pun on French?

    1. Claire says:

      It doesn’t look as if it was pronounced in the French way as the spelling in the Tudor period was very phonetic and in the records the dog’s name is spelled “Purkoy”. It might well have been a joke or a play on the word.

  8. Gaill says:

    Hi Claire,
    Do you know if Anne ever met Thomas More in the flesh?
    Thanks,
    Gaill

  9. Denise Hansen says:

    A few more details on Purkoy here. He did fall “from a window” – also the mention of Chapuys joke. http://under-these-restless-skies.blogspot.com/2013/09/anne-boleyns-pets.html

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