Elizabeth Boleyn’s death – 3 April 1538
Posted By Claire on April 3, 2020
On this day in history, Wednesday 3rd April 1538, Elizabeth Boleyn (née Howard), Countess of Wiltshire and Ormond, died at Baynard’s Castle, home of the Abbot of Reading, in London.
Elizabeth was in her early sixties and she died just less than two years after the executions of her son and daughter, George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, and Queen Anne Boleyn.
Her cause of death is unknown, but in April 1536 she had been suffering with a bad cough and Anne, when she was arrested, was worried about her mother’s health.
You can find out more about Elizabeth Boleyn in the videos and articles below.
114 thoughts on “Elizabeth Boleyn’s death – 3 April 1538”
The fortunes of the Boleyn family had risen so high for the previous decade and came crahing down so suddenly and in a most violent and horrible way. Elizabeth Boleyn was ill prior to the judicial murders of May 1536 but I have no doubt that the killing of her children exacerbated whatever she had had lead to her death in less than two years. I wonder if Henry ever gave a thought to the families of those whose lives he so easily and callously destroyed throughout his reign?
Henry care about someone but himself? You’re joking right?
I agree with you though.
I believe he cared for his children. His son especially as he was heir to the throne. He seemed to live his daughters (on his terms of absolute obedience) but anyone else was expendable. Thomas More for instance. Thomas met Henry when Henry was 8 yrs old but he seemed to have no problem executing him when More didn’t support Henry as head of the church in England or Bishop John Fisher who was vey close toHenry’s maternal fraternal grandmother. He really seemed to put little value on human life unless it was his own or immediate family.
Sorry. I forgot to remove the word ‘maternal’ and live should be ‘love’.
I agree with you, Michael, the evidence points to Henry being a good father more than a poor one.
He was extremely fond of Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond, had constant contact with him, made generous provision for him and his household, agreed to a good marriage with Mary Howard, sent him as his representation to the Council and arranged for him to go to Ireland, but he died before his appointment, made him his heir and spent time with him personally. Had he been legitimate it is certain he would have been invested as Prince of Wales.
Henry’s failure as a father was tied into his obsession with getting a new wife and a male heir as well as the unexpected refusal of Mary, a daughter all evidence points to him lovingly indulging until 1533 to accept his wife, Anne Boleyn as his new Queen. Henry had been a wonderful father to her as a child, he paraded her around with pride and she was sent to Ludlow to learn to rule as a Princess of Wales should have been. Henry brought her back often and he wrote of her musical abilities and her education often and again with fatherly pride and love. Mary was his pearl. Yet, his actions from the time she was seventeen onwards put him in a very bad light. I believe Henry was torn over the next four years between the desire of a father to accept his daughter and for her obedience to be shown to his will. It might sound cruel and indeed it was but no sixteenth century father of noble or royal blood could have accepted Mary’s behaviour or insulting his Queen.
Henry made choices that would make his subjects heads spin let alone modern ones, especially the bitterness he showed towards Katherine by sending her into exile and separating her from her daughter, which was very cruel and traumatic for mother and daughter and those choices were contrary to the years he had adored both of them. But is it much different to many marriages today which begin well and are passionate and turn into bitter battle grounds or do we expect Henry to be more humane? I don’t really expect an answer, just something to contemplate when we look at the sixteenth century through modern eyes and think we are more enlightened than our ancestors. Henry’s actions are without merit or explanation but they can be wrapped up within the concept of a sixteenth century autocratic monarch. He had to rule and be seen to rule and that meant controlling his family and household, even if the methods used were ruthless. Henry by his own point of view faced rebellion by his daughter, his heir still until a son was born later that year and he needed to have her obedience or how could he order the same from his subjects?
Mary found herself out in the cold, forced to move in December 1533 to the household of the new Princess Elizabeth and then declared illegitimate, the convenient victim of Henry’s legal dancing around Parliament with his marriage to Katherine declared unlawful and Anne now lawfully Queen. She was being pressured over the next three years to acknowledge that but refused, her birth right was her only value, a firm belief and Mary wasn’t going down without a fight. Anne is often blamed for the treatment of Mary and Katherine and there is no doubt she was to a greater extent but Henry was at the very least responsible in that he consented. Anne also made some small efforts to approach Mary but they were rejected. Katherine was the only mother and only Queen Mary had known and of course she blamed Anne as the evil stepmother coming in to break her parents marriage. Mary idolized her father, she only ever wanted his approval and his blessing. She didn’t at that time blame him for anything. Now that sounds madness but Mary wasn’t the only one to believe Anne had poisoned Henry’s mind. Most of Henry’s people had similar ideas. The King has poor counsel, people said, he appoints meagre men, not nobles, he has appointed heretics, his wife is one of them, Henry needs to be freed from such people. They said all of those things during the Pilgrimage of Grace. It was only after Anne’s death that Mary saw the awful truth that Anne was responsible on a personal level but it was her father who wanted to force her into submission. He demanded it and she was bullied into submission. Mary had a rude awakening. However, she doesn’t appear to have held a grudge long-term and her relationship with Henry afterwards was a sound and loving one.
Henry comes up short with Elizabeth as well, being very much a loving father for three years and then he rejected her and also declared her illegitimate. He would mellow towards Elizabeth as the years passed and she admired Henry but there relationship is rather hard to get around. He did see to her education and he also restored both his daughters to the succession.
Henry doted on his son of course, making provisions for every waking moment and watching over him with great care. Edward learned much about his mother from Henry and he learned to follow in his footsteps. Edward was convinced that Anne was a whore and that neither of his sisters should be barred from the crown. Henry had real fatherly feeling when he wanted to but he did come up short on a number of occasions.
So many families were destroyed by Henry V111, but in his defence he would always say his actions were for the good of the realm and an heir for England, with Lady Elizabeth Boleyn Countess of Wiltshire daughter of the Earl of Surrey, her family were left wrecked by King Henry V111 when he had two of her children judicially and I feel unnecessarily murdured, we know little of her she is a vague figure in her daughters history, yet she had been there all through Anne’s triumphs and despair and must have helped mould her in the woman she became, as a young girl she was in service like all the daughters of the nobility were, and served the queen then Elizabeth of York, and later Katherine of Aragon, she did not make the same impact on the court as her youngest daughter was to twenty years hence but she was known to be a beauty, and possibly a flirt as all young girls tend to be, she had a sonnet written to her by the poet John Skelton in which he lauded her beauty and yet tantalising we have no dusty portrait of her hanging in a castle or palace somewhere, to gaze upon her countenance and maybe see a likeness to her most famous child, the infamous and fascinating Anne Boleyn, as far as Tudor wives go Elizabeth must have been exemplary there is nothing to say she was anything other than a loyal and supportive wife to Thomas and a loving mother to her children, we do not know the dates and births of the infants she sadly lost, but they were both sons and one is commemorated Thomas, on his fathers beautiful tomb, in the leafy quietness of Hever, the other little Henry, is mentioned in an inscription at the church at Penshurst Place a one time seat of the Boleyn’s, they all must have been born at Blickling Hall in Norfolk yet Sir Thomas inherited Hever from his father and the family left for south to Kent where they lived in peace and splendour, Elizabeth acted as hostess during the golden days of Anne’s courtship with the king when he came calling, the first occasion was unexpected and Anne was not interested in him but gradually after many passionate months of wooing with heartfelt letters and gifts, the king won Anne round and she became his official mistress, we do know Thomas was unwary of her involvement with the king and I believe this is because he knew him to be a most fickle person, he probably feared his loyalty to his daughter, also there was Mary his eldest, she had been his mistress at one time and must have thought Anne might well go the same way as Mary, left discarded and then left with nothing but an unsavoury reputation, we do not know however how Elizabeth thought, like a good Tudor wife she must have just supported her husband and tried to give advice to her daughter, sadly she is such a vague person we only have references to her time at court when she chaperoned Anne, she was also with her in the company of the king from time to time, that Anne was close to her mother is prevalent in the way she thought of her when she was taken to the Tower, her first stricken thoughts were for her, Elizabeth comes across as a sweet natured woman a loving mother and a loyal wife, she must have felt very real despair when Anne lost her last baby and we can assume she was with her during the fatal miscarriage, how she felt when she lost both children we can only imagine , it especially in such a dreadful brutal way, their names sullied and especially with the incest charge, which must have hung over the family like a giant shadow, it was evil corrupt and bestial and that is what Anne and George were both made out to be, she was suffering from a cough when Anne was in the Tower and the source tells us, she was sore grieved with it, it could have been bronchitis but she lived another few years and we do not know what she was suffering from, if it was the same disease then it could have been the dreaded consumption which lurked ever near in many a Tudor household, she could have developed pneumonia but she was not at Hever when she died, she was staying at some friends of hers the Daubeneys at Baynards Castle, and we are told they were the chief mourners at her funeral, she was interred with her distinguished Howard ancestors which sometimes did happen, married women did not always lie in the same tomb as their husbands, and the Howard’s were such an illustrious family it was only natural they would claim back their own, maybe it was the travel that made it impossible for the funeral cortège to go to Hever, she left behind a grieving husband who himself was to die a year later and he lies in his splendid tomb in the church at Hever a beautiful brass effigy on top, the whereabouts of Elizabeth however disappeared, the church at Lambeth became a thriving hot spot for tourists with a cafe and gift shop, then recently a plaque was found with her name on it and so somewhere underneath the ancient flagstones we know she rests in quiet repose, whilst the clatter of centuries go on around her we know she lies with her Howard and ancient Earls of Mowbray ancestors, her family lie scattered all around, Anne and George are in traitors graves and Mary’s is a mystery, we know as much about her eldest daughter as we know about her, one thing I did mean to mention, there was no mention of Mary at her mothers funeral, maybe she was unwell or too grieved to attend, or just maybe she could not make the journey in time if she was residing at Rochford Hall?.
Hi Christine. I don’t believe I am aware of the sonnet by John Skelton or if I am I forgot. Do you know where I can find that?
Hi Michael, Skelton is said to have compared Elizabeth to Cressida from Chaucer’s ‘Troilus and Criseyde,’ Cressida being a Trojan woman who fell in love with Prince Troilus of Troy, she apparently was called a female of inconstancy, maybe Skelton found his muse a trifle inconstant? She was said to be very beautiful and in fact even Henry V111 was linked to her but this was mostly due to the slander of her family, Mary Boleyn came in for a fair share of slander to, years later in the reign of Elizabeth 1st Sander whom we all know of, said that both sisters were both wicked and immoral and Mary had even slept with the King of France, Anne had been hurriedly sent off to the Low Countries because she had slept with her fathers chaplain and butler, whatever the truth regarding Mary and her reference by Francois as his hackney, Sander did use it as an excuse to slander Anne, and as we have seen even Elizabeth’s morals were called into account, Henry V111 dismissed the reference to his mother in law ‘never with the mother’ he muttered when questioned, it would have been well nigh impossible anyway the young prince was only around nine years old when Elizabeth was at court and he was very strictly guarded, he may have had the reputation for being a lech when he was older, but we can see how silly most rumours were, Elizabeth and her two daughters must have been quite alluring however and her son George was described as being as an ‘Adonis’, that symbol of manly beauty, gossip always attaches to the most attractive and Anne with her grace and sensuality, and Elizabeth’s allure which Mary must have inherited to, they must have been a striking family, added to their grace and good looks were cultivated educated and brilliant minds, the fall of this family was a very real tragedy, Mary alone survived and yet she too died several years after, a very wealthy women indeed yet she must have found, in the aftermath of her families tragedy, that wealth and riches were not important at all compared to life and love.
Thank you Christine. Very interesting that she would be Skelton’s subject as she seems in most accounts rather a minor character. Nicholas Sander really did some damage during his lifetime to some people’s reputations but the most damage has been done by current authors in our time who have passed off his lies as facts. Sander can be forgiven for what he wrote for as a Catholic he was also a victim.
He was indeed I must add also Claire, I heard your you tube message it was very inspiring thank you.
Hi Christine, do you have a link to the poem by John Skelton? I haven’t read it for a long time.
Elizabeth was the one who acted as a chaperone to Anne Boleyn when she came to Court and shared apartments with her daughter to protect her honour and was close to Anne for much of her life. As the daughter of the Second Duke of Norfolk, Elizabeth Howard should have had the choice of Lords for a husband but the Howards had fallen from grace because of their loyalty to the House of York. Henry Vii had given her father his life because he was loyal to Richard iii and her grandfather had died with Richard. As Earl of Surrey Thomas Howard had become Earl of Norfolk not Duke because Henry Tudor had demoted him even though he granted much of their lands back when Thomas proved his new loyalty. Elizabeth wasn’t considered too grand for a long-term retainer such as Thomas Boleyn and a match was arranged.
We know from the evidence of his own letter to Cromwell in 1537 that Thomas Boleyn and Elizabeth had at least five children in six or seven years of marriage, from approximately 1498/9 to 1505 when it is believed George was born. Mary is generally accepted as the oldest followed by Anne a year later and two sons who died young, Thomas and Henry, with George born last. This is the only evidence, although two burial stones, marking the two missing sons bear witness to their deaths and possible births in between the three living Boleyn siblings. Other than Thomas referring to Elizabeth bringing him children every year, we have no other evidence of their actual dates of birth. It would seem that the couple were close, productive and successful. Both Elizabeth and Thomas apparently were well educated and Thomas had a long public career in royal service for both Henry Vii and Henry Viii.
Elizabeth was a lady in waiting to Elizabeth of York and Katherine of Aragon and her husband under Henry Viii had a career as a diplomat and held several important positions at Court. Their daughters both caught the eye of King Henry but neither was a family meal ticket. Mary also married well, to a friend and minor relative of Henry, William Carey. His death left Mary in a precarious position in 1528, but her family did support her and her children. Anne’s relationship with Henry wasn’t based on her being put in his bed by either her mother or father, both of whom were present at her wedding. Elizabeth was thought of by Anne in the Tower who worried about her health. We don’t know much about how Elizabeth felt when Thomas returned to Court a few months afterwards but there isn’t any evidence of a split in their relationship. Elizabeth chose to be buried with her Howard ancestors because she was of higher rank than her husband and died in Lambeth. It wasn’t the custom for couples to share a tomb. Burials varied with second wives or second husbands or the mother of an heir being the burial partner or of a family vault being chosen. The place of death or the status at death might determine a burial place. Margaret Beaufort, for example was buried in Westminster Abbey as the mother of the King, not with any of her husbands, all of whom were of lower rank and in the case of Thomas Stanley, had a family Chapel and first wife, Eleanor to be buried with. Elizabeth Howard was buried with her family and Thomas was buried in Hever. This was from tradition, not because they had fallen out.
Elizabeth probably died of TB and had been ill for some time, certainly since the time just prior to her daughter’s arrest and execution, but I believe that the traumatic grief of two of her children facing execution for treason in their prime made her health worse. I also believe the loss of his wife and life long companion affected the health of Thomas Boleyn, whose own death followed within less than twelve months. He was a good age for the time but still his loss quickened his time on earth.
The Chapel at Lambeth is now a Museum and Cafe but the ledger stone marking the burial place of Elizabeth Howard was found a couple of years ago. One can only hope the coffin of this charming and redoubtable lady will be recovered some day.
Hi Bq, after some research I discovered that Skelton simply titled his poem to The Lady Elizabeth Howard, and the poem was about Troilus and Criseyde, he makes much of her beauty in his flowery phrases, there is mystery surrounding his lineage, some think he was related to the Shelton family one member of whom called Anne, married into the Boleyn family, but it is uncertain, he also wrote a poem to Margery Wentworth Elizabeth’s cousin and the mother to be of Jane Seymour, she also was a beauty strange when we know her daughter was considered to be rather plain.
Thanks for that, Christine. I believe there is some confusion over the image of Lady Elizabeth Howard with no known image of her surviving and yet one must have been done because she was a wife and mother of important people, the daughter of a great house, she would have been painted before entering her child bed chambers. She probably had a betrothed portrait or wedding miniature. Thomas has his image on his tomb, although that is stylised so not a true portrait. It’s just not possible that someone didn’t sketch these important families. True she was pre Hans Holbein, although he was in England in the 1520s painting Thomas More and his family before his departure back to the Netherlands. He returned in the 1530s to paint for the Court and we have a beautiful collection of drawings and sketching and his designs for the baptism of Princess Elizabeth and so on. He even put designs on the breast plate and skirt of Henry’s armour. It would be intriguing to see what Elizabeth looked like as it would give us a clue about Anne, whose surviving images are also much in dispute or later. I am guessing she was quite a beauty and a good catch because the young King Henry was briefly attracted to her. I don’t believe he had an affair with her and in fact there isn’t any evidence that Henry slept with anyone but his new wife during their early years. Other Howard women were beautiful, there is no reason Elizabeth wasn’t. It’s very interesting when you read poems and classical love sonnets, one always wonders on whom they are based. Who was the Dark Lady of Shakespeare’s famous musings? Was she real? We just don’t know although some research has suggested some candidates. Thanks again.
Your welcome, I adore poetry I especially love The Iliad and I own Christina Rossetti’s The Goblin Market and a volume of Tennyson’s poems, my favourite is The Charge Of The Charge Brigade, I have also read some of the debauched Earl of Rochesters poems and by Henry Howard Lord Surrey, I do like to write poetry myself at times, my friend loves to read them as they are about fairyland and mythical beings etc, Shakespeare’s mysterious Dark Lady who appears in many of his sonnets, has many thought to have been a lost love of the Bard, and that wonderful film Shakespeare In Love was centred around this dark lady, but it’s merely conjecture they do not know who she actually was, if she actually existed, but it made a good film, I know what you mean about Elizabeth, as she was the mother of the queen I would have thought a portrait would have been commissioned, and yes the Howard women were attractive, Anne’s cousin Mary Howard was attractive, her brother tried to get her to seduce the king therefore she must have been quite a looker, I believe I have seen a sketch of her, and then of course we have Catherine Howard who was very pretty and had plenty of sexual allure, the kind I believe Anne Boleyn must have possessed, if only there was a portrait or miniature of Elizabeth as Anne’s looks has been the subject of much debate, there is no known contemporary picture of her except the sketch by Holbein, and if we had Elizabeth’s likeness it may fit pounces to the puzzle, however there are plenty of Anne’s paintings around done after her death and they do resemble one another, the long face with high narrow cheekbones, who did Anne take after was it her mother or father? Her nephew Henry Cary had the same long face and high cheekbones, for many years it was believed the sketch of James Boleyn was Sir Thomas Boleyn, now we know different, it’s so very frustrating when we know of these famous tantalising people we read of their beauty and yet we have no likeness, I would love a portrait of George Boleyn to be found as he was described as very handsome, maybe one day we can only hope.
It is so frustrating. Over the centuries portraits, sketches, etchings and other artworks have been dispersed all over the planet. To add to that most portraits had no identification as they were made for a patron or sitter who knew who was portrayed. Out there somewhere as you say there is most likely a professional painting of Elizabeth Howard. It may be hidden and undiscovered or in a museum either unidentified or misidentified or in a private home with misinformation handed down for decades or more that it represents great great great…… aunt Barbara. I wish, though I know it is absolutely impossible that every questionable piece of artwork (painting or sculpture) could be reevaluated and accurately identified. I know there must be a contemporary portrait of Anne Boleyn out there. There may even be ones of her brother and sister unlabeled or mislabeled.
Yes it is frustrating, there was a portrait for years identified as Queen Catherine Parr, now it is said to be that of Elizabeth Seymour who married Thomas Cromwells son, I actually thought the lady in question was too plainly dressed to be that of the queen, queens were always portrayed most richly dressed resplendent in jewels, what about the Lady Abergavenny portrait which was discovered a few years ago, it was said to be a lost portrait of Anne Boleyn, but that was debunked, as you say it is a shame the sitters names were not on the portraits, as they themselves and their families knew who they were, so why label them? But it is certainly frustrating for us centuries later who try to identify them, I would love to see a portrait of Lady Elizabeth Boleyn there are some said to be of her eldest daughter Mary, but these are in question also, one of them is most attractive, she wears ermine and has lovely delicate features, one would expect her to resemble Anne but the sitter does not, but some siblings do not resemble one another and others can be taken as twins, it all depends what genes you inherit.
I know the painting you’re talking about. I believe it was Catherine Howard the portrait was identified with. Regardless of who it is is is a wonderful likeness of a 16th century lady.
Yes I think it hangs in the New York Art Gallery, not sure? I also love the miniatures by Lavinia Terlinc, the one said to be of Lady Jane Grey is exquisite, it’s the expression particularly I like, Jane seems to have a mulish expression on her face, well they do say artists capture the mood as well as the features of the sitter, I just wonder what she was thinking about.
I believe you’re right about it’s current location in NY. As to Leveena Teerlinv I am a big fan. I know Nicholas Hillyard is brought up a lot as a great miniaturist and I certainly agree but I really like her work.
I just heard that Boris Johnson was transferred to intensive care yesterday. My prayers go out to he and his family.
Yes his conditions worsened hopefully he will recover, dread to think what’ll happen to the country if he doesn’t, his girlfriends recovering I hear, I think Boris never heeded the advice of his doctors to take it easy, but must be hard when your head of the country.
So many Tudor portraits have been misidentified over the years and yet they must have been labelled at the beginning. Of course they have passed through so many hands over the years, been sold and moved about, probably sold abroad, if you remember what happened to the collection of King Charles I and subsequently lost. Its no wonder centuries later they turned up and were believed by curators to be person A instead of person B. For donkeys years a famous portrait of Lady Jane Grey, on the front of most books about her was known as her, but in the last couple of decades it was identified as Queen Katherine Parr. Jane’s mother was believed to have a bad character because of her misidentified portrait. Its a great pity that so many have gone missing and are probably destroyed or hidden away in dark corridors.
Nicholas Hilliard is one of my favourite painters and I love his miniatures. They are so beautiful and some miniatures are tiny, meant for rings. Mary Queen of Scots sent Elizabeth such a miniature when she first returned home to Scotland in 1561. The work in those tiny portraits is exquisite and so fine, they are incredible. I find the work of Hilliard to be very dainty, gentle and delicate. The young man who stares longingly towards the Queen, in love from a distance is one of the most famous. It’s almost dreamlike.
Yes Hilliards work was especially fine, and there’s that tiny portrait in Elizabeth 1sts ring which we believe to be of her mother Anne, they are so tiny works of art, it seems it was fashionable to have portraits done and put in pieces of jewellery, every country has its own wonderful art treasures and we are lucky we have an extensive collection, portraits were the early photos really, we have these artists to thank for showing us what the men and women who lived in past centuries looked like, of course Henry V111 did us a terrible injustice when he ordered all of Anne Boleyn’s portraits to be taken down and destroyed, if he could only hear us raging at him! He really has done history a great disservice, I feel that because there is no actual contemporary portrait of her, only serves to make her more beguiling in our eyes, there is the Holbein sketch of course, but it is not the same as an image captured in oils showing all the lovely colours of the sitter and her jewels and her actual facial likeness.
Regarding that ring you mention I have no doubt thatt it is her mother’s image. It very much resembles other portraits we’ve seen. I hold out hope that somewhere on this vast planet is Holbien’s portrait of Anne. I say that because though Henry ordered the destruction of everything pertaining to Anne a set of she and Henry’s initials survive at Hampton Court. If something so obvious could survive under Henry’s nose then perhaps if a portrait of her was made it was spirited away and intentionally misidentified to protect it and the original keeper died before revealing the sitter’s true identity. As odd as this seems when it comes to art I’ve heard even weirder.
Yes Henry ordered his stonemasons to erase her initials from his palaces and her portraits taken down and destroyed, sacrilege when we consider the amount of time and work it takes to execute an oil painting, but her initials above the gatehouse at Hampton Court still show her initials, they were left forgotten and today it is rightly called Anne Boleyn’s Gateway, a fitting tribute to a much maligned woman whom her ogre of a husband tried so much to destroy any evidence of her, he never spoke her name once either and we can all assume that no one else was allowed to, though he did make a reference to her during his ill fated marriage to his fourth queen, it was through his daughter Elizabeth who wished to meet her new stepmother, the king then remarked that she had had a mother so different from poor Anna of Cleves, that she should not wish to meet her, also I have heard that Henry did express regret at sending Anne to her death, but the source is very vague, he should also have had his conscience troubled over the deaths of her alleged lovers to.
Yes, I read that in Sandra Vasoli’s book on Anne’s letter from the Tower. I so want that story to be true because it would show that Henry still had some humanity left but at the same time we read the account of Henry’s death where he sqiueezes Cranmer’s hand to show that he is alright with God. That seems to show no empathy or regret. In the end the only ones who know the truth are Henry and his maker.
Yes, that one emblem of Anne Boleyn high under her own gate, missed by Henry’s men who removed all traces of her around the palace at Hampton Court gives us a brief glimpse at her arms. There is also a small pomegranate with a Tudor rose coming from it on the wall close to the Great Hall because Katherine and Henry were visiting the Cardinal so often that the palace was practically theirs and in 1527 Wolsey gave it to Henry.
I believe the lady in the tiny ring locket belonging to Elizabeth I probably is Anne Boleyn and the young Elizabeth but its hard to know if its a good likeness or not as it is so tiny and is abstract. However, the features are still very much as one would expect of Anne and that Elizabeth wore it for me speaks for itself. Who else would she have in such a locket but her mother? One might have a lover or grandparents or spouse but when its another woman it is usually ones mother. Some people have said it was Catherine Parr but I don’t think the features are quite right.
Yes, I believe Henry regretted that he had killed Anne in such a shameful and vengeful manner. I also believe that he saw Anne’s eyes looking back at him every time he saw Elizabeth and for a time that made him uneasy around her. It was only in his last years that he really began to show pride and affection towards his youngest daughter and he encouraged her education. I believe he regretted a lot of stuff, although it didn’t stop him from doing more regrettable things. I believe the report is true that he regretted Anne’s execution at the end of his life. It is a later document but it must have been from earlier sources. I know how people think of Henry but he was still a human being and not immune to a spot of conscience from time to time. He was acutely aware of his own standing with God and that alone gives one hope of his ultimate repentance.
I too have always believed the lady in the ring is the queens own mother, I cannot see how it could be anyone else, and by commissioning such a ring and wearing it forever on her finger, she was keeping faith with the mother she had never known, maybe Elizabeth had a vague memory of her and maybe as she grew to a rebellious teenager she sought the truth from her father, and why he had her killed, or maybe it was such a sensitive subject she was advised not to, why anger the king, but hormones do play a big part in ones behaviour and I can see Elizabeth being bold enough to ask her father, it would be only natural, she also like her father was silent on the subject of Anne Boleyn but there were many other ways she kept faith with her, she adopted her falcon badge and emblems on her own table linen, a nice touch and she adored her maternal relations, her old governess and childhood companion Katherine ‘Kat’ Ashley had known Anne and would have told Elizabeth positive things about her, growing up she was aware she was only the Lady Elizabeth and a bastard, the disgrace of her mothers demise would have had an effect on her, but she would also have been told about her bravery on the scaffold and how her alleged lovers had denied any wrongdoing with her, she probably came to her own conclusions about Mark Smeton, she would have heard about her fathers hasty marriage and the grumbling about her fathers behaviour, but not too much as it was considered treason to talk thus of the king, but Elizabeth as she grew older into womanhood, must have believed in her heart of hearts that her mother had been merely the victim of a vicious coup instigated by her fathers minister Cromwell, and her death was done out of expediency, a source tells us of how she once mentioned that she did not think her mother would have slept with the king unless she was sure she was lawfully married, she must also in private with her dear cousin Catherine Cary have held familiar cosy little chats about their mutual family the Boleyn’s, it would have pleased Elizabeth to know that she had numerous relatives of her mothers close by, and so inordinately fond was she of Catherine many have speculated part of the reason was because she was her half sister to, we will never know the truth of Catherine’s paternity but the two women were very close, the lady in the portrait is very tiny but close up she does resemble Anne Boleyn, she has the long face pointed chin and wears her famous French hood, Elizabeth is shown as a profile and she reminds me of the face shown on her coinage, the long aquiline nose she inherited from her father, she never took this ring of a sign of her loyalty and when she was dead, it had to be literally sawn of and was taken to James in Scotland, we can therefore see in this lone piece of jewellery and in the other emblems too, associated with Anne, that she did indeed love her mother very dearly.
Anne used to take baby Elizabeth to her audiences even with Ambassadors and put her on the cushions by her feet and of course that was recorded as probably not the thing to do. Anne made certain that Elizabeth had plenty of clothes and paid a lot of attention to her needs, visiting her as often as possible and to be honest it was another decade before anyone paid that much attention to her again.
Elizabeth wasn’t yet three when her mother was killed and I really cannot imagine the traumatic time she must have had when she was told the truth. Just when and how Elizabeth found out how her mother had died, we really don’t know but it must have been totally traumatic when such a small child found out. Elizabeth was in semi exile afterwards and in a separate household so she could have been sheltered for a short period, but all children ask about departed or absent parents at some point. If Anne came regularly or on certain occasions, Elizabeth at some point would miss her mother. And who was this new lady in mummy’s place? Why was Lady Sheldon so upset with her? Why didn’t her father want to see her anymore?
Elizabeth was at Court during Christmas celebrations 1536 and she was part of the baptism of her brother Edward. It’s not too difficult to guess that she was at least informed her mother had died or was in disgrace before then. But was she told the full horrible truth? Or was she only told much later. She was seven in 1540 when she met wife no four. She was also very intelligent and would have heard the whispering and must surely have demanded the truth. She was certainly aware of it well before her eighth birthday. This is conjecture but we really have no evidence whatsoever on this matter. It’s one of those annoying mysteries of history. I can’t imagine the truth when it came being delivered in a gentle manner or being anything other than deeply distressing and Elizabeth would have been told a number of different things, especially as few people had anything but contempt for Anne Boleyn. Her father’s version of events would have been extremely different to that of her other intimate contacts and the letters praising Anne afterwards are much later, written when it was safe to do so. The account of her mother from William Latymer for example is that of a pious and religious and generous woman, not the whore her father might have claimed Anne to be. Her name wasn’t mentioned by him. Kat Ashley may have spoken kindly or even her governess but even then others probably still slandered Anne. Fortunately Elizabeth found another lady to replace her mother in Katherine Parr and for a number of years her half sister had some good feeling towards her. Henry himself was a better father to both of his daughters during his last few years. Elizabeth was sufficiently together in the head to become strong herself.
Elizabeth remembered Anne fondly and she mixed her mother’s arms with her own on banners and linen in a public dinner at the Guild Hall in London. No matter what she was told, Elizabeth worked out the truth and knew her mother was innocent.
Yes Anne did have many champions and regardless of Henry V111 and her shocking death, many had loved her and they would have painted a much kinder portrait of her to Elizabeth, there was for one her chaplain who kept his promise to Anne and became Elizabeth’s spiritual mentor and later her archbishop, there were Cranmer who died before Elizabeth became queen but must have sung Anne’s praises to her daughter, within reason as we must not forget, the old king was still alive, there was also Alexander Ales who retold the poignant scene to Elizabeth many years, later of the interaction he had witnessed between her parents, her enemies vilified Anne but her supporters those who were her family members, and those who were the supporters of the reformist movement always had good to say of her, she run her household most strictly she also was a very pious and learned woman, she had strict moral standards, she was a charitable woman who liked to help the poor and needy, somehow this image does not sit well with the evil witch who slept with five men one her own brother, the same woman who conspired to kill the king, Elizabeth in her heart of hearts believed in her mothers innocence and if by doing so, she felt a certain betrayal towards her father, I feel she would have told herself that he also was a victim of the same plot that had killed her mother, he also had been a victim he had been fed false information, Elizabeth would not have wanted to think her father willingly sent her to her death, and just maybe we will never know Henry V111 may well have hesitated, it is fascinating to consider if Elizabeth had a small memory of her mother, she was a doting parent and like all first mothers was possibly a little besotted with her baby, she did it is true have her placed on a cushion next to her whilst she was receiving visitors at court and would visit her as much as she could, she spoiled her with beautiful clothing the records of which survive today, there were numerous bonnets and stockings smocks etc, she was not quite three when she lost her mother and some people can remember certain things, I can recall certain memories when I was about the same age, but for the majority psychologists say there can be a mental block beyond the age of five, Elizabeth could well have had a certain flash of memory about a laughing lady who hugged her close and placed her on a large ornate cushion, perhaps she remembered staring round at the court whilst Anne spoke to the courtiers and ambassadors, it is not impossible to assume she had an image of Anne in her memory, in fact I like to think she had, the rehabilitation of Anne Boleyn did begin at Elizabeth’s coronation when two life sized figures of Henry V111 and Anne were on display amongst the pomp and ceremony, over the years portraits were painted of her and her first biography was written by Thomas Watts grandson, she was hailed as the mother of reform and her good deeds were remembered, of course there were always the troublesome Catholics like Nicholas Sander spouting his nonsense but Elizabeth I believe just scoffed at his remarks, and it did not bother her too much why should Gloriana trouble herself with this non entity who was hiding in the wilds of Ireland, another called her the daughter of that infamous concubine Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth had her enemies just like her mother had but it was something she knew she had to live with, it went with the job so to speak.
Have just heard that my boss is in intensive care and on a ventilator it’s so very upsetting for all of us, she was battling covid 19 and it turned to pneumonia, she was re admitted to hospital a few days ago, she us such a lovely person and has a lovely family and loads of friends, only young at fifty four, we are all praying for her.
Sorry to hear that Christine, praying for her and family. Hopefully she will recover and be o.k, very difficult time.
Take care and stay safe.
Thanks Bq it’s so frightening we are just praying she gets better.
I didn’t tead my emails yesterday. I’m so sorry to hear that Christine. Not much more to say than what’s been said. She will be in my thoughts and prayers.
Oh, Christine, I’m so sorry to hear that, what a worry! I will remember you, her and her family in my prayers.
Thanks to you all, it was a shock when we heard , I was bit rough about the same time with flu like symptoms so I’m wondering if I had it as well, I’m ok now but my poor boss has asthma and I think folk with breathing problems could be more at risk, we heard she was at home then in hospital twice, then she developed pneumonia and of course next thing we heard she’s back in hospital in an induced coma and on a ventilator, our other boss is keeping us updated so we are just hoping and praying she pulls through.
Take care of yourself Christine. When you go out wear something over your mouth and nose and wear something to protect your eyes. I did about a months worth of grocery shopping yesterday and I would say 95%+ people were covered including myself. I was finally able to buy toilet paper. It sound like your boss is being well taken care of.
This is very difficult, Christine, your poor boss. She will be very well taken care off, we are all praying for her. If you need anything order in. If you go out take every precaution. My mum is getting essential shopping from the milkman. I have our shopping in and am only shopping small shops out of the way. I know what you are going through because of Steve’s coma in 2015 and the body will get every support to recovery. The NHS are heroic and people are recovering despite the gloomy news. Many more people are recovering. We will keep her in our prayers. Take care.
Thanks for all your kind posts yes I’m being very careful I have latex gloves and take medicated wipes with me for my face, iv got lot shopping in so if I need anything I just stick to my local high street which is just down the road, I’d run out of mayonnaise so jus popped in my local co op, my boss doesn’t live near me so she could have caught it at home but we just dont know, the NHS are marvellous and we know she’s in the care of the professionals we can only keep our fingers crossed.
When Elizabeth was old enough I wonder what she was told. Was she simply told that her mother was gone or was she told that she was executed because she betrayed her father? or perhaps maybe she was told nothing at all until after her father died? Since we know Elizabeth had very good feelings about her mother and wore that ring with their two portraits in it she must have found out the truth that her mother was innocent but I can’t imagine she was told that all her father was still alive. Perhaps she didn’t find out until after she came to the throne.
This is something that has been pondered on down the centuries, how was Elizabeth informed of her mothers dreadful death, she had been a sunny presence in her life then she was never seen again, Elizabeth was as sharp as a button and this is evident when she remarked on her change of title, how haps it yesterday my lady princess and today my lady Elizabeth? Such a precocious mind would have noted such changes in status and Henry V111, preparing for his coming nuptials to his newest bride would have not had much time for his youngest daughter, I believe it must have been a number of people who told her about her mother, those closest to her like her nurse and governess, in Weirs Lady Elizabeth she has her half sister Mary come to visit her and she tells her about her mother, but that of course is just fiction, Mary however was kindly disposed towards her baby sister maybe maternal feelings could have played a part there, Mary should have been married by now and had children herself, she quite possibly loved to pet Elizabeth, even though she had resented her presence as she stole her status from her as their fathers heir, now of course that was changed, and Elizabeth was relegated to the position of mere kings bastard the same as Mary, sympathy would have made Mary kinder towards Elizabeth and of course Elizabeth’s mother had not been the saintly Katherine of Aragon, but a disgraced traitor who had died a traitors death, I think Elizabeth would have been told about her mother when she was a few years older, I think right away she would have been told merely that her mother had left court and her father had a new wife, but many historians have wondered if Anne’s death had much of an impact on her daughter anyway, as she was so young, maybe as I said in my earlier post she would have had a vague memory of her, but as she grew older that memory may have faded a little, and with it also the sense of loss, and she was surrounded by her governess and nurse and other women of her household, she would have been loved by them and petted more so I think because of her mother, when she was older perhaps about the age of eight she could have just been told that her mother was dead and then the awful details may have come out, some years after, she must also have heard the odd bit of tittle tattle, she was very close to Kat Astley who was related to Anne Boleyn and I think she could have broken the news to her gently, we will never know because history is silent, but we can assume it would have had a devastating effect on her, and it could be that the trauma was the reason Elizabeth was to suffer panic attacks all her life, she also suffered palpitations of the heart could these be the result of the psychological effects of her mothers death? With one parent gone however she was to focus her life on that of the parent she had left, the glittering auguste figure of the king, growing up he was the centre of her world and she adored and revered him, it could not have been easy for her however knowing that she was merely a bastard like her elder sister with no claim to the throne, however that was to change as the king grew older and he added both daughters to the line of succession.
Your right. Mary was an excellent big sister to the young Elizabeth but what could Mary say if asked why? Mary hated Anne (with good cause) and couldn’t very well say to Elizabeth ‘Your wicked mother was executed by our father the king’. I don’t think it was Mary because that would have put her in a very awkward position. I’m guessing someone in Elizabeth’s household who had some sympathy for Anne, and Elizabeth was told when she was old enough to understand not to ask questions, at least until Henry was gone. A lot of what Elizabeth learned about her mom may have come from the man whom Anne made promise to look after her daughter if something were to happen to her. (His name escapes me)
It was Mathew Parker her chaplain, I believe she spoke to him of her fears just before she was arrested, it was something Parker himself reminisced about years later, we do not know what she said to him but she knew something awful was going to happen to her, but when it came it must have been such a shock, the worse she must have hoped would happen to her was banishment from court, and an annulment of her marriage, she could not have foreseen in a thousand years that she would be stitched up with such heinous charges and later condemned to death, her plight deeply moved Parker and his loyalty to her he did indeed keep in the years ahead.
Yes, Mathrw Parker! Thank you Christine.
Mary may have referred to Elizabeth as the little Bastard in private for a time but she was soon won over by her baby sister, although she had every reason to hate her and to resent her for taking her place. They shared the same household, Mary being placed in her service, so she grew to know Elizabeth very well. I suspect Mary had very good maternal instincts and although she was marginalized by Princess Elizabeth for two and a half years, Mary must have realised the child wasn’t to blame. The two girls later shared the same fate, being declared illegitimate and losing their mothers. It was little wonder they found a fondness in common and it was most certainly after the death of Anne that they grew closer, under more kindly guidance and circumstances. Mary was kind by nature and she watched over Elizabeth as the child grew up, they shared more in common through their trauma and Mary showed her much kindness. Elizabeth and Mary had their own households but they spent more and more time at Court during the 1540s and 1550s. Both were named back into lawful succession in 1544, although the King ensured Parliament still maintained their status as illegitimate. Evidence suggests that even as rival heirs to their brother, the two Princesses remained on good terms. Elizabeth was even with Mary when she made her triumphant entry into London. She attended her sister’s coronation alongside Anne of Cleves and both women found favour with Katherine Parr, Elizabeth as a,young girl and Mary as an old friend. This relationship only started to break down when Elizabeth became implicated in the Wyatt rebellion, which isn’t surprising given that the aim was to kill Mary and put Elizabeth on the throne as a Protestant puppet and control her marriage. Elizabeth received a letter from Thomas Wyatt the Younger but no evidence of it was found although Elizabeth admitted contact. At the very least she concealed the intention of the plot and although Wyatt didn’t implicate her on the scaffold, Elizabeth fell under clear suspicion of treason or misprison of treason. Mary was torn between the advice of many of her council, some of whom had joined the conspiracy and the insistence of Elizabeth that she was innocent. In the end Elizabeth did herself no favours by not answering a summons to Court and by taking her time when she eventually did travel to London. Mary’s decision to lock Elizabeth up in the Tower is often criticized and while I have some sympathy for how afraid she was, it was the correct decision. From the point of view of a Queen under threat by a rebel army at the gates of London, who aroused her people with a brilliant speech, who had already had to fight for her crown, the use of her sister as the centre of a conspiracy to kill her was dangerous and she could not take any chances. This was potentially a treasonous plot and Elizabeth was under deep suspicion for several months. Mary wasn’t the only monarch to lock up a dangerous sibling and although I sympathise with Elizabeth and her fears, she wasn’t put in a cell, she was housed in the royal apartments and had gardens to walk in. Yes it was the same place her mother was kept in, but she wasn’t kept as closely confined as Anne. Elizabeth was ill during her confinement or at least pretended to be, which was something she experienced during times of stress and oddly Mary experienced the same thing growing up. The fact that Elizabeth was released on the anniversary of her mother’s execution was probably a coincidence but it must have sent a chill down her spine. Elizabeth wasn’t completely free, she was sent to Woodstock for a time and then free to go back to Hatfield. However, contrary to even modern conceptions Elizabeth didn’t spend the rest of the reign in fear of her life and when it was believed Mary was pregnant she sent her a present of baby clothes. Their relationship was now completely changed and distrustful but Mary still recognised Elizabeth as her heir. That at least was sensible.
Elizabeth had a number of people who knew Anne in her life, Matthew Parker, William Latymer, Margaret Shelton, Thomas Cranmer may also have known Elizabeth for a time, but all these people spoke or wrote well of Anne and their memories of her. It’s a pity we don’t know more about when and how Elizabeth knew the truth about her mother’s death and her innocence, but the way people spoke to her at the start of her reign certainly had a great contrast to how her brother and father felt about Anne Boleyn. Henry had impressed on young Edward that Anne was a whore who had betrayed him and he put this in his Devise for the Succession and we must assume others said the same. Enough people knew the real Anne, however, to tell Elizabeth the real truth about her mother and it was that which stuck with her all of her life.
I agree wirh you 100%. There was nothing else Mary could do. I’m sure Mary was well aware of her country’s recent history and knew you had to fight to hold on to the crown. There is no doubt in my mind that Elizabeth was at least aware of the rebellion. She was lucky that Mary was not her father’s daughter. He would execute people on not much more than a sneaking suspicion and sometimes remove the heads of people for having to much royal blood for his comfort. I doubt Henry would execute Elizabeth if he were in Mary’s position but I’m sure she would have been dealt with much more harshly than being put in the queen’s apartments.
Elizabeth was viewed with mistrust by Mary’s council because of the Wyatt plot, and really for a high status woman accused of treason the Tower was the only place for her, personally I don’t think she was involved in the plot, I think she was too cautious, she did under interrogation insist Wyatt may have written to her but she never wrote to him, however Mary was suspicious and so Elizabeth was sent to the Tower, part of this could be so the queen knew where she was which was sensible, and yes Mary has been criticised for this action, but she was only protecting her realm and her position as queen, it is a shame that as Elizabeth grew older their relationship did begin to break down, I think it could be the difference in their religious beliefs that could have triggered it of, the Wyatt rebellion did not help either, yet there could have been another reason why, Elizabeth was her heir and Mary was acutely aware of Elizabeth’s popularity with the people, she was also younger and more attractive, could there have been a certain amount of sibling jealousy there to? But Mary was quite lenient towards her sister even though she did complain sometimes about her, she once remarked possibly after her sister had annoyed her, that she resembled Anne Boleyn’s music master, Elizabeth also irked her because she would conveniently claim illness when she wished her to celebrate mass, it was not an easy relationship, gone were the far of days when the two sisters would probably cosily play together and Mary may have told her stories before she went to bed, also Elizabeth as she grew older began to look more like Anne Boleyn with her mocking dark eyes, and Mary wanted no reminder of that hated woman, in a sense as the years went by, the two sisters must have realised they had little in common, in later life Elizabeth’s sojourn in the Tower and later her incarceration under Sir Henry Bedingfield left her feeling most aggrieved, it also left her with a grudge against Mary which lasted well into old age, Elizabeth suspected that part of Mary’s resentment towards her was because of the treatment her and her mother had suffered under Anne Boleyn, she said so to one contemporary, even though it was Henry V111 who pulled the strings Mary did blame Anne for a lot of her troubles, it is easy to blame the wicked stepmother than the beloved father, I do not think Mary was petty enough to dislike Elizabeth because of her mother, but she was all to aware because she was heir apparent, her sister had her supporters and there would always be coups in her name, one has to quash rebellions and the perpetrators must be punished, it was the only way to deter others, Mary’s path to the throne had not been easy and reluctantly she had Jane Grey and her husband executed, she had not wished to do that, it was a very dangerous age and Elizabeth really was shown much leniency, even though she must have been scared out of her mind in the Tower, the grim shadows of her mother and Jane Grey whose scaffold she had rather hysterically asked was still on the green, must have haunted her day and night.
I feel terrible for Mary. For 17 years she’s Princess of Wales and heir to the throne of England. On the 7th of September 1533 all of that changes. She is now reduced to Lady Mary and to cap it off she is now declared a bastard. She has not only lost the succession but any chance of a good marriage should she desire it. In the 16th century who wants an illegitimate daughter of Henry Viii as a wife for their son. It’s no wonder she was eventually broken.
Yes she endured a lot in her life, and really I think that could have been what fanned her hatred of the reformists, her baby sister was born and as you say, overnight she became merely kings bastard, to bear the stigma of bastardy was a dreadful stain when you were heiress apparent then overnight you were told you had lost all what gave life meaning, it was thus with her mother, poor Katherine was told her marriage had been no marriage and she had merely been living in sin for twenty years, it was an insult to her very integrity intelligence and her status as a princess of Spain and queen consort of England, Anne Boleyn had been a leader of the new religion and she could have believed that all her misery was because of her stepmother and the consequences after, her father discarded her mother and split from Rome which was sacrilege to his catholic subjects, Mary was thus caught up in the maelstrom of all this torrent, they say experiences in life mould you into the person you later become, well Mary did have every reason to be bitter and yet when she became queen she was very lenient with the members of her council who had supported Jane Grey, John Dudley had to die but she was determined to pardon Jane her parents and young husband, it was her fatal decision to re introduce the old heresy laws which ruined her reputation, that and her marriage to Philip Of Spain, she died sadly before she could repair her somewhat tarnished reputation, her life was very very sad and yet many loved her, in the early days the English had cheered her whenever she appeared, especially when it was known the king was planning on discarding her mother, but towards the end they had begun to fear her, but Mary had many friends and those who served her loved and mourned her, her reign is really deemed as a failure compared to that of her sisters, even in death Elizabeth eclipsed her sister, the magnificent tomb James 1st had built for her shows her effigy on top, her face surrounded by her ornate ruff and hands clasped in prayer, there is no mention of Mary who lies underneath but for an inscription ’here lyeth Elizabeth and Mary we two sisters in hope of the resurrection’, Elizabeth’s tomb is matched only by the magnificence of her cousin Mary Queen Of Scots Tomb, which stands just a few feet away, all done in white marble she too lies in quiet repose with her hands clasped in prayer, the Westminster Abbey houses many different kings and queens, some wretched some fortunate, some were deemed great and some a failure, yet they all did their best to rule wisely, often against insurmountable odds, and history has been their judge.
How are things, Christine, just checking in on your friend. Hopefully she will pull through. Take care and remember we are all here for you.
Hi LynMarie, I heard she’s had her oxygen level reduced a bit so that’s something positive, havnt heard anything else so I guess her conditions the same but it sounds like she’s making a slow improvement, thanks so much
Yes, that’s pretty standard in ICU, once someone starts to improve, the ventilator is turned down slightly to enable breathing by the patient so as weaning off can begin. It can take a couple of weeks, but little by little improvements show. Good to hear she is making improvements. Keeping her in our prayers and thoughts. What is her name? Forgot to ask.
It’s Paula thanks for your kind words Bq, much appreciated
I actually believe Thomas Wyatt and others used the marriage between Mary and Philip as an excuse to raise a rebellion, based on a number of unfounded rumours that played into fears that he would control English foreign and domestic political power. Mary was astute, however, and she negotiated a marriage treaty which excluded Philip from any political power, preventing England from being a satellite of the Spanish Empire and ensuring his political position didn’t survive Mary’s death and the alliance was the best for England at the time. Had Wyatt and others held fire, the people would have accepted the marriage and realised Mary wasn’t the puppet Queen he believed her to be. The ridiculous rumours attracted a few members of her Council and the irony was that she spared most of them and another, Sir Peter Carew was cleared by his jury. Mary spared the majority of those condemned, 90 people were executed, 238 condemned pardoned and freed, some 500 others pardoned before trial by Mary in person. The marriage didn’t cause the trouble it is sometimes claimed, but fighting did break out from time to time on a personal matter as with all foreigners. A tournament was staged to attempt to ease tensions and to be honest most people were not affected by either the religious clampdown or the other changes during Mary’s reign.
It’s sad that Mary doesn’t get more credit as a Queen because of the religious persecution, which of course was terrible, if not unusual for her time, because she achieved quite a bit in her short reign. Her religious policy also included teaching and preaching, pamphlets and the restoration of many beautiful shrines and Churches and England was still a majority Catholic country. She compromised when it came to the settlement of the religious organisations and the gentry who had taken monastic land and property. Mary didn’t take the land back, but she didn’t compensate them any further, but she did establish new orders. The Mass was established by law but in fact it was being heard from the moment that Mary was declared as Queen and the new prayer book which wasn’t popular anyway. Mary had to balance her own commitment and the dangers posed by heresy with the support she needed by both reformers and Catholic traditionalism. Her policies had nothing to do with her personal background, it was expected that she should introduce new heresy laws. What wasn’t expected was how far reaching those laws were but then again the numbers of people who were of the new faith and the number of odd belief systems had increased over the last decade. Heresy was considered a real danger and was prosecuted under everyone, mostly at a local level, but that shouldn’t lessen the horror of the punishment it brought to ordinary men and women and occasionally to young people of 14 or 15 because they were not considered children. We must always feel the horror of such times, whether the burning of heretics or the hanging, drawing and quartering of Catholic martyrs under Elizabeth or both under Henry Viii. However, we must also acknowledge that there was far more to Mary and Elizabeth that tough harsh religious and political policies.
Mary had a real ability to rally people to her and this was what she did when she was faced with Wyatt at the gates and appealing to her people as her children and she as their mother, showing them her coronation ring. They closed the gates on him and he was forced to surrender. She rallied support to retake her crown without any bloodshed at the very beginning. Elizabeth was to learn to use this ability and the two women have far more in common than propaganda allowed us to believe in history. Mary’s main success was in the establishment of the gender free authority of the crown and in raising the prestige of the crown again. We know that Elizabeth would never have had a smooth succession without her sister and even though Mary only accepted her as heir based on her false promise to protect the Catholic Faith, it was a wise final decision. Mary reorganised the finances of the Navy, she helped the poor and founded several hospitals and organisations, she helped the economy and her political and religious policy was having a profound success, only halted by her death. Her policies were not as unpopular as later claimed either and people reacted in different ways, not always sympathetic. I know that sounds horrible, but the punishment of heretics was part of life in the sixteenth century and the death penalty wasn’t exactly unfamiliar. Persecution isn’t an easy subject to study, it’s one which rips your soul to pieces because these are real men and women, suffering terrible torment and it’s very disturbing. Its not part of our world and we cannot understand or accept it, but we have to remember most people did. Most people also would not have witnessed the execution of heretics as they were concentrated in urban centres and in the allotted place in those towns, often prisoners were transferred to them for maximum impact. It is these factors which one has to put into context when studying such distressing and terrible circumstances. The same detachment is necessary when dealing with human sacrifice, which claimed thousands of deaths in the Southern and Central Americas. This is extremely difficult as historians and human beings but one has to try to be as objective as possible but of course that isn’t always possible.
Mary’s childhood was of course one of privilege and the affection of both parents but this was taken from her at the age of seventeen and her world was turned upside down. Henry took the woman he loved as his new Queen, setting Katherine, her mother to one side and sent into exile and mother and daughter were separated. Anne wasn’t recognized by Mary as her new mother and Mary was mistreated by her and later her own father. Mary is very much to be pitied and she had every conceivable reason to be bitter but you are correct, her personality was anything but that. She was forced to act ruthlessly at times, but she was also known for her mercy and giving people another chance. She hesitated over the death of Jane Grey but the Wyatt Rebellion forced her hand and Mary was not able to save her as planned. She should be remembered with more compassion and balanced analysis and thanks to modern historians she is.
When I first came to this subject about 35 years ago and started learning about Mary I thought she was one of the most vile people who ever lived but as I’ve read more about her recently I’ve grown quite fond of her. She was kind and a loyal friend as you say in a short reign did much good for the kingdom and the burnings she is known for are terrible. Her father also burnt heretics and though death was the result regardless of who did it I believe their motives were different. In Henry’s case it seems almost all of the executions under him we’re done out of vengeance for defying him though they were masked as justice being carried out. In Mary’s case my perception is that in her mind and heart she truly believed she was doing good by the condemned. I am not arguing right or wrong just what I think she may have believed. The only execution that I see Mary taking any kind of revenge in is the case of Thomas Cranmer, the man who declared her parents marriage invalid. Perhaps legally he was burned but I do think this was also personal. As to Jane Gray I put her death squarely on the shoulders of her father. Mary I think, though pressured by the Spanish to execute her in order to advance the marriage to Philip probably would have found a way to spare Jane either keeping her comfortably in the Tower or under house arrest but Henry Gray, not the sharpest tool in the box decided to take up arms again. After that I don’t see how Mary could take the chance of Jane continuing as a focal point for more rebellion. It did however really tarnish Mary’s reputation to execute such a young woman
I agree with you, Michael, the execution of Lady Jane Grey was a stain on Mary’s reputation and who was advising her on this has been a matter of debate for the 500 years since. The documentary evidence gives conflicting information but its likely she received counsel on both sides, Spanish and English, although Philip wasn’t one of them. Mary really did believe she could save Jane and her husband and they looked as if they were going to be pardoned, despite living under a sentence of death for several months. Mary even sent her chaplain Father Feckingham to attempt to convert Jane and save her life because then she would certainly be useless to Protestant conspirators. I understand what you are saying and I am sure the same question came to mind but at the end of the day these are Tudors, they don’t do well with rivals on the loose. They were not very secure with rivals around who could be used against them. Jane had been made Queen once, it would be argued, she might be freed from the Tower or house arrest again and that wasn’t something Mary could risk. We have to remember this was a very dangerous time and although our sentimentality may want Mary to act otherwise, given the reality she faced, I don’t believe her choices were unlimited. Once Jane’s pardoned father had been involved in treason a second time, Mary could no longer take the risk of saving Jane. Unfortunately, that’s the terrible reality that she faced. Female traitors did escape in the Middle Ages, but very few of them actually headed a rebellion or sat on the throne. Jane’s family had achieved that aim and religious difficulties played a big part here. That intensified the conspiracy and passions involved. Mary had even said Jane was an innocent in all of this and had every intention of a pardon, probably after her wedding, but it soon became clear that after her family rebelled again that was impossible. The Spanish had something to do with it, but in fact it was her English Council who argued the strongest for Jane to die.
I agree with what you say about Thomas Cramner although I don’t believe Mary would have argued for revenge as her intentions. I believe her intentions came partly from revenge but not consciously because her nature wasn’t like that. She even kept a letter from him in her prayer book which suggests she once had a different relationship with him. Yes, I didn’t know that until recently either. Mary naturally saw Cranmer as responsible for what happened between her parents and her own fate, but more importantly Cranmer was held legally responsible for converting the entire country to the Reformation. He was responsible for leading England into heresy in Mary’s eyes and for the laws that ended the Catholic Church in England. It wasn’t quite as simple as that but that was the essence of it and his own treason trial condemned him for that, for continuing to write against Mary and her succession for months afterwards and for his support of Jane Grey. He was then accused of heresy and his case was heard in Rome. He made a number of recanted statements and he had made a formal submission so legally should have been spared. However, Mary signed his death warrant and that was possibly for personal reasons. That has been a stain on her reputation ever since. However, he could also have been executed for treason. Mary missed a trick there as well, one that will be a coup for her regime, a converted super Protestant. On the other hand it has been argued by Belloc that Cranmer wasn’t sincere in any of his recanted statements but he may also have suffered from some kind of Stockholm Syndrome, a desire to please in order to gain better conditions or visitors. It was a complex situation with a number of factors contributing and Mary certainly had good reason to sign his warrant but only she knows her reasons and her own heart. His legacy was the beautiful Book of Common Prayer and his many works, his memoirs and his sermons. His death was as sad a loss to humanity as that of More and Fisher and the other scholars of their time who ended up under the wrong King.
Wow, that is very interesting about the letter from Cranmer that Mary had in her possession. Is this new info or something you stumbled onto recently?
I stumbled upon it about a year or so ago and I am not entirely certain were. However, I believe it was in a book by David Wilson on the friendship between Katherine Parr and Anne Askwew. Katherine was part of the household of Mary for a number of years and knew her well. She made a translation of holy works for Katherine, they were friends as well as stepmother and stepdaughter, it isn’t surprising that Mary had some affection for those who knew Katherine well and received gifts from men such as Thomas Cranmer, he was a kindly man. His own religious disposition at that time is somewhat ambiguous. He was definitely a reformer but he also conformed to Henry’s brand of Catholic traditional beliefs, while keeping his own ways to himself and contributed to some of the reforms Henry allowed. He also allowed the persecution of friends like John Lambert whom he knew to be a heretic and share his beliefs, but he allowed him to burn nonetheless. It was after Henry’s death that Cranmer made his real influence and saw his reforms become law. I don’t believe Mary saw him necessarily as an enemy during those earlier times, especially as he was the servant of her father. It’s an odd tit bit keeping a letter in her prayer book but it gives an insight into the relationship between Cranmer and a woman who was very different to the mad woman of myth. I think I might try and find the reference, there might be more information and it would be interesting to find the prayer book or letter but of course as with so many things they may be lost.
Correction Cromwell not Cranmer was involved in the Lambert case, but Cranmer for his own safety conformed, even though the Six Articles were to him six whips for the people, even being defended against his enemies who tried to trap him by Henry himself who knew he was a reformer and married, because to Henry he was true and he was useful to Henry. Cranmer had gained Henry his annulment from Katherine and remained useful. Cromwell was also useful, but unlike Cranmer who kept his own counsel and his faith in quiet and loyal service to God and King and Cromwell was the active one whose service kept Henry’s power without challenge. He was the administration, the henchman, the right hand of the King and unfortunately for him he made several enemies with the nobles and he was attacked by them when he failed. His own short coming led to him being turned upon and no longer useful, Henry turned as well. Henry did regret his treatment of Cromwell but that was no comfort to his dead servant. It was a rare glimpse into his mind and its definitely proof that Henry was a weak and insecure man who was easily manipulated.
The book by Mary Porter is excellent I really like that one, it does have a balanced view of her as queen, yes regarding her marriage, it was not popular but she did take preventive measures to ensure England would not become a vassal of Spain, she was not soft although she did fall in love with Philips portrait, she was aware the thought of Philip as king consort made many baulk at the idea, and you are probably right there, Wyatt used her wedding as an excuse to wind the people up, he was just waiting for something like that to happen so he would have an excuse to inflame the city into rebellion, poor Mary when we consider her lot had not been an easy one, yet she did against all the odds remain most lenient with many of her subjects, it’s the Smithfield fires that sadly tarnish her reputation yet during her brief reign she did do a lot of good, she did revoke the law that Henry V111 had passed that made it legal to execute the insane, she did as well help fortify the navy, possibly realising that like her father, an island such as England needed a large and powerful fleet, the loss of Calais hit her hard and in her personal life she yearned for a baby, I feel had she had a heir for England then her life would have been complete but here Philip was a most indifferent husband and every opportunity he left for abroad, though he did respect Mary and spoke with regret at her death I believe he was somewhat relieved, she died relatively young and what I find most sad is that she had not the comfort of Philips presence at her side, she is said to have had stomach cancer but that winter a strain of flu was going around and Mary succumbed to it, maybe it was a blessing as had she survived her demise from the cancer would have been awful, she is described as being very thin and stomach cancer does make the victim lose an alarming amount of weight, regarding her failed pregnancies she could have had endreometris as she had suffered heavy painful periods when a teenager, she did not wish Elizabeth to have her realm but saw the strife it would cause if she left England to another relative, Elizabeth succeeded easily thanks to Mary it is true, the troubles Mary had to hold onto her throne meant that Elizabeth’s accession went smoothly, it was about a hundred years after that Mary’s reign was seen as largely a failure, and the nickname ‘ bloody Mary’ was attributed to her, she was not contrary to popular belief called this in her lifetime, but even today when people hear the name Mary 1st they think of the Smithfield fires, but as we know there was a lot more to this tarnished queen than that.
I have read Linda Porter’s and you’re right it’s a very balanced view and an excellent read. I have also read Anna Whitlock’s biography of Mary. Also a great read. Each has a bit of information that the other doesn’t so they quite complement each other.
I will have to get a copy of Anna’s book thank you for that Michael.
You are very welcome.
Linda Porter and Anna Whitelock presented Mary as a balanced human being with flaws, certainly, but using the sources to closely examine each event from both English and Spanish points of view and the mythology has been well and truly set aside. Yet you still get people who believe nothing else because they can’t be bothered to read anything else, just as people believe the nonsense in the papers today about celebrities. Both books are excellent and very well researched. I know one troll who commented on a number of reviews that the books are revisionist nonsense. Really some people still following the rubbish spouted a hundred years or more in the past.
Philip was an excellent consort but not an attentive husband. He and Mary appeared on coins together, on seals and documents were seen together and issued in both names. When Mary went into confinement, believing herself to be with child Philip took on her responsibility with her consent and orders but most of the time he took a secondary role only. He spent much time away as well because he had his own realms to govern and it was hard for Mary to be apart from him. She was desperate for a child, England needed a Catholic heir, not her illegitimate, Protestant half sister and Mary genuinely wanted to be a mother. Yes, I believe she did fall in love with Philip and his handsome portrait, the reports from his Ambassador and he was indeed young, handsome, charming and Mary apparently enjoyed a rather successful wedding night. However, he wasn’t the warmest of human beings and his absence was keenly felt but the couple did have an active sex life because Mary obviously had good reason to believe she was pregnant twice. The alliance with Spain was also a good one because it was a barrier against France with whom they were both at war. Mary also tried to keep England out of the war with France but inevitably that was impossible and we won a great forgotten victory at Saint Quentin in 1557. The Dauphan of France, however managed to rally a new force and moved against the small garrison at Calais, which was lost at the end of Mary’s reign. It is often lamented that England lost her longest and only foothold on French soil but in fact it was far too expensive to maintain, cost a fortune to hold onto and its loss wasn’t lamentable. Our presence on French soil was a fantasy that we couldn’t afford and hadn’t been able to afford for years. It was a tragedy that Mary and Philip didn’t have children and it was only that which really failed them because it meant their legacy came to an end. Philip was also content to remain in England and maintain the alliance by marriage to Elizabeth if the stories are true. His approach to Elizabeth was made after a descent period of mourning and not immediately afterwards as the movies like to show. His regard for Elizabeth may have been genuine, but it turned soar over her harassment of Spanish ships and the relationship collapsed and lead to war. The execution of Mary Queen of Scots was the catalyst to invasion.
Talking Tudors podcast posted 4/10/20 guest Melita Thomas. Topic: The Gray family.
Thanks bear it in mind
Thank you BQ. I still say ‘wow’ as that is not an item I would have expected Mary to have in her possession.
Hi its in Melita Thomas The King’s Pearl Henry Viii and His Daughter Mary, who also pointed to Mary dedication of a Book of Litany Prayers in English by Thomas Cranmer which she gave to Queen Katherine Parr in 1544. Mary favoured the new rite as it was at that time which was translated from the Sarem Rite but not too far towards being an Anglican Prayer Book. We must remember that Mary was a,Renaissance Princess who had been raised a humanist as her father had, encouraged by men like Erasmus and More and was far from the Ancient traditional old Catholic of myth. She favoured a very vibrant and lively, even Evangelical form of personal faith and a teaching and learning faith. Henry was an apt scholar and an expert on theology and the Bible, even more than Anne Boleyn and enjoyed a good debate. Mary apparently was good at rhetoric and was as every bit the scholar as any man in England. She was also a lady who loved to play cards and dance and was an expert musician. She loved grand clothing and was every bit as fashionable as her sister and knew how to use them to show her power. She was extremely popular and her succession proved that. Her reputation was destroyed by a bitter succession and propaganda, which is why we have the myth today.
Yes Mary was a true princess of the renaissance, she had a cultured educated mind she also had a frivolous side and loved luxurious clothes and jewels and dancing, she also had a weakness for gambling which meant she often incurred heavy losses, it is easy to imagine Mary as a sour faced fanatic but she wasn’t, and to her friends and those who served her she was dearly loved, it is true her reputation has been destroyed had she not burnt the Protestants I believe history would have painted her very differently.
If I’m not mistaken didn’t Mary lose quite often at Cards?
I knew of Mary’s love of cards and dancing (though her brother Edward didn’t approve) but her preference for a livelier form of worship is totally new to me. I had made the assumption (wrongly) that she liked the ‘old’ ways that her mother would have known. Thank you so much for that new (at least to me) information. I am aware of Melita Thomas but only in interviews.
Yes I originally thought that she was very much a traditional die hard catholic, but I recall reading it in possibly Linda Porters book that she was swayed by the livelier approach to Catholicism, you are right Edward thought she was frivolous but he was such a sour puss, this could be because from young he had had instilled in him how important he was, Elizabeth on the other hand dressed very conservatively, especially after the Seymour scandal, but when she was queen then she went for full head on ostentatious, Mary was very green to on sexual matters, she overheard a courtier call one lady a pretty whore, and she repeated it whilst in the presence of her ladies, they were all shocked and realised Mary had no idea what it meant so they had to explain to her, another occasion she was the butt of someone’s joke when she was asked how to play a certain ‘game’, it seems inconceivable to us how a young lady could be so naive on such matters but then Anna of Cleves was also an innocent, but then high born ladies were expected to be such, even so you would think that curiosity would make them want to ask about the birds and the bees and such, when we look at the escapades of Catherine Howard in her youth we can see how undisciplined her upbringing was, not that her guardians knew such immorality was going on, it was her misfortune that she was sent to the care of her grandmother whose household was really lax, it was those fun filled days and nights that led to her undoing when she became queen, morality was all important particularly in those chosen to be queen consort, they had to be virgins unless of course they had been widowed, Mary was said to be very cheerful after her wedding night, maybe she disclosed to her dearest friends Susan Clarincieux and Jane Dormer what had taken place between her and Philip, she was really besotted with him and Philip has been described as very handsome, he was blonde with light coloured eyes but in the portrait of him and Mary, the full length one his jaw looks overlong and he has spindly legs, of course men’s legs are not much really, (sorry Micheal if you read this) ha! The Hapsburg jaw has been a matter of debate, one of Philips relations suffered quite dreadfully as it was noted he could not eat or talk properly, it may have been caused by genetics in the family, but Mary was happy with Philip and was confident she would soon get pregnant, however I doubt if she ever could have carried a child full term as I mentioned earlier, she could have suffered from endometriosis which causes fertility problems in young women, it was noted in her youth she suffered dreadfully from heavy periods, the poor girl also suffered from migraines and toothache, luckily clove oil was available for bad teeth and gums, the migraines could have been caused by the stress of her parents separation, and the loss of her inheritance, therefore it could have been psychological, Elizabeth also suffered from psychological illnesses throughout her life, Henry V111 did in a sense ruin both daughters lives, yet he adored and cosseted his cold natured son, who really was quite incapable of giving affection to another.
Yes she did lose quite a lot but she was an extremely wealthy woman, her father also loved to gamble it seems it was the pastime of kings.
Regarding Henry Fitzroy his name acknowledges his paternity so The king’s feelings for him were obvious. Something I read in ‘House of Treason’ about the Howard family is that King Henry charged Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk with the proper burial of Fitzroy’s body but that Norfolk seemed in no hurry to do so. I find that a bit disturbing. There is some information in the book but not much detail. Do either of you know much about this?
Hi Christine. I personally do not believe that Anna was that innocent. I believe that she was well educated including in matters regarding sex but during that well known incident with her husband Henry Viii she feigned a lack of sexual knowledge not only to protect herself but being a high born lady with much class did so so that Henry could save face. BQ may be able to address this better than I since she has read Heather Darsie’s book ‘Anna of Cleves’.
Darsies book sounds very good I may read it in the future, there’s not many books on Henry’s fourth queen she mostly just rears up in the books on Henry V111, obviously since she was married to him, there are not many on Jane Seymour either, a lot of Henry’s wives have been ignored by those authors in favour of Anne Boleyn, she is the one wife who commands attention and holds the interest, the way she refused to become the mistress of a king and eventually died a most brutal death romanticises her sad story, but the other wives are still interesting to read about.
I found out about Heather Darsie’s book when she was one of the speakers on Heather Teysko’s online summit in 2018. It hadn’t been published yet but I believe it came out in the UK in February 2019. If you don’t know who Darsie is she is an American attorney by trade but also loves Tudor history and she speaks and reads German. To research her book on Anna she went to Germany and studied the documents there which no one else has done. She said she also has contemporary images of Anna that had never been seen previously. I want to read it some day but I already have tons to read before that so will wait to get it
Others have used the German records. I believe that Retha Warnicke made use of the German records for her book on Anne and I’m not sure whether Elizabeth Norton did. Anna Spender, who used to be the curator of Hever Castle, shared some wonderful extracts from letters that Anne had written home to Cleves from Hever when she gave a talk on one of our tours a few years ago and I know that she’d used the German archives a lot.
Retha Warnicke’s book covers in excellent details the protocols and the negotiations of international marriage and she really does describe in brilliant detail everything of the arrangements and who was who among the wedding party and the gifts and preparations, in marvellous details. The documents from the German archives in both books really do reveal a much more intimate and personal view of Anna and you get a lot of background and context. The extracts from her own letters show a bright and witty and warm young woman, the Ambassadors reports are really important for the context of the political situation on the continent between Cleves and the Empire over Guelders, which was deteriorating quickly very shortly after Henry and Anna married and you really do get a different and probably more accurate picture of the most important events from the German point of view. The German account of the first meeting for example makes a lot more sense and Hall isn’t too far off. I would have loved to have been there to hear the extracts from Anna’s letters home, I love readings from personal sources.
One thing that Heather used was a German Chronicle which hasn’t been widely translated into English before, which gives a different date of birth for Anna of June or July, rather than September. A number of insights into the German Court and Anna’s family come from this Chronicle. It’s called the Die Chronik des Johann Wassenberch or Chronicle of Johann Wassenberch who is recognised as an authoritative contemporary source for the Lower Rhineland and is a rare German source that isn’t generally used otherwise. I can’t remember what Elizabeth Norton used but it’s an excellent biography.
That would have been even more tragic because that would have repeated the loss of a number of babies by her mother, Katherine of Aragon. Although two children were full term, Mary and Henry Duke of Cornwall, the other four pregnancies she had may well have ended prematurely. At least one other son was born alive but only lived a few moments, hours or days, the source isn’t entirely clear. However, some historians think the boy was born at eight months. Mary had very painful periods, indicating endometriosis, which can indeed cause infertility but ironically one of the known modern remedies is pregnancy because that prevents the lining of the womb peeling away and gives nutritional help to the body during the time in the womb. It’s one of those ironic things of nature but of course pregnancy is made harder with endometriosis. The only real treatment is a camera plus the endometriosis removed, followed by three to six months of treatment injections into the stomach once a month and because they can harm any unborn children, you must use protection. It makes it very difficult to conceive but a woman can carry a child to term, its just very hard. I think Mary had many things which prevented either a healthy child or can account for her two misidentified pregnancies. Some kind of stomach cancer has been suggested. Her mother died of cancer and we know there is a genetic link between some cancers in mothers and daughters.
Yes, Michael, Mary did lose a great deal of money gambling at cards although she was also a card sharp and loved the games a little too much. She was also quite innocent in the ways of the world but as with Anna of Cleves I doubt she was ignorant of sexual matters. Anna of Cleves would have been prepared by her mother before coming to England and the testimony she signed to the contrary was invented. I really don’t understand why people don’t get that everything said about Anna and Henry was a load of rubbish, testimony made by his mates to tarnish her image and support his claims about the marriage being over because he couldn’t stand her intimate company. The sources are full of Henry’s agenda, they simply cannot be trusted. I don’t believe Mary didn’t know about sex at the age of 37 and that she had a lively wedding night.
Elizabeth and Mary suffered from very similar psychosomatic illnesses during times of traumatic stress, real symptoms but with no pathological cause. The symptoms were headaches, stomach pain, vomiting, digestive disorder, all familiar to anyone with regular bouts of deep anxiety. They suffered when afraid or under stress and they both went through a good number of stressful incidents, being separated from their parents, being sent into exile, their lives being threatened, imprisonment, their parents death in traumatic circumstances, they had several step mothers, not all of them great, they were both denied their inheritance and birth right and they were both under pressure because of their personal beliefs. Elizabeth learned to act as if she was ill when it was convenient, to avoid going to Mass for example, whereas Mary made a grand display riding through London with her entire retinue, carrying rosaries. Both women had to show great strength and courage and its a wonder either of them was sane, but they were and they both had successful reigns, even if Mary’s was much shorter. Remember Elizabeth had the good fortune to come to the throne as a young woman in her prime and with her life ahead of her. Mary was 37 with few childbearing years ahead of her, her successes stolen from her by her own half sister.
Michael, regarding the burial of Henry Fitzroy in the Howard Tombs in Framlington Castle in Suffolk and the letter from Henry asking if everything was done correctly, yes its an odd one. Henry Viii left the disposition of his son’s remains to Norfolk who had him interred at first in the family tombs in Tetford Priory in Norfolk, before he was moved to a grand tomb at Saint Michael Church, Framlington after the priory was closed. His wife, Mary Howard joined him later on after her own death. There was a rumour that Norfolk had buried Fitzroy without ceremony and without dignity. However, that would not have been possible. Henry’s own orders were to take the body quietly in lead and convey him to the priory and to bury him discreetly. This may have been because he died of consumption and it was contagious even after death. However, this wasn’t quite the case. Henry wanted his son buried properly and asked Norfolk to make the arrangements. Henry wrote to Norfolk and demanded to know everything had been done correctly and Norfolk wrote to reassure his master. Fitzroy was buried with honours but with discretion and then moved to a new tomb, the full honours being observed. The tomb is spectacular and three D studies show it in great detail. It was golden and contained several heraldic images and symbols. I doubt very much that Norfolk would have buried the King’s son with anything but dignity and ceremony, even if his original burial was quiet.
Heather Darsie points out that the dispositions, including the one by Anne’s chief lady, in which she apparently had a conversation about her lack of sex with King Henry and consented to were all written six months into her marriage at the time of her annulment as evidence for the King. Even Cromwell was under orders to write all he knew of the marriage and those orders included the alleged conversations with Henry about his disastrous wedding night. They were designed to escape from a politically insecure marriage which was dangerous to England at the time and that most of the things said were invented. Anna wasn’t sexually ignorant, even though she was a virgin and was sexually innocent because of her upbringing. It would have been essential for any bride to know what to expect on her wedding night, especially as pregnancy was believed to depend on the woman enjoying her wedding night. Pleasure was needed for conception, it was taught and there was a lot of advice about on how to pleasure your wife so as she conceived a child. She couldn’t enjoy herself if she didn’t know what to do. Anna spent a lot of time with her mother before leaving for England. It’s inconceivable that she didn’t learn about sex and sexual pleasure.
I am sure Anna’s mother would have told her what to expect on her wedding night as there was no point in keeping her in the dark, all her daughters would have married eventually and women must have gossiped about such things like they do today, after all what about when she started menstruation, surely her mother would have explained to her what it was all about, and surely she would have confided in her sisters, Anna probably was lying about her wedding night to save Henry’s face, but we will never know, her wedding night with Henry V111 is as much a mystery as Katherine of Aragon’s is with Prince Arthur.
Thank you BQ for the additional details regarding Henry Fitzroy and Anna. After what you said about young Fitzroy’s interment and what sounds like a very fitting tomb for the offspring of a king I must say I feel much better about the situation. As to Anna I didn’t realize that so much that is in the history books was written so long after the fact, or the conditions that they were written under making them so unreliable. Your insight is most appreciated.
As for Mary I had not given a thought to her sexual education but after the posts here today of course her mother would have prepared her just as Katherine’s mother Isabella would have prepared her. As for Elizabeth I wonder if she was prepared for marriage. Her own mom was executed and as she grew up there were a string of stepmothers. Perhaps Katherine Parr? As she stayed single perhaps observing her father being a serial marrier and seeing how some of his wives were treated turned her off to the idea or she just wanted to be independent. Trying to get into the mindset of a 16th century person is not easy where the societal expectations were so different bthan the 21st century.
I just found some pics online of Henry Fitzroy’s tomb and an illustration of what it would have looked like when gold. Beautiful and very, very appropriate.
Yes I had a look also it’s very elaborate, I couldn’t find anything about the lads funeral and Norfolk overseeing it so sorry about that, I read a piece on how the tomb was opened some hundreds of years later, and lying next to him was another skeleton but they could not determine if it was his wife Lady Mary Howard or his father.
What little information I read was as I stated in ‘House of Treason’ by Robert Hutchinson covering the Howard family from Bosworth thru Elizabeth. As to the second skeleton I would think the size of it should be a good determination.
It must have destroyed Henry V111 when his teenage son succumbed to TB after seeing so many of his other children die, if that was what killed him, he alone had survived the precarious years of infancy and babyhood then he had reached his teenage years, only for fate to step in and take him out of this world and into the next, Fitzroy was his beloved son he had such high hopes for him, he had bestowed on him the royal dukedoms of Richmond and Somerset and was wedded to a high born wife, the king had taken such delight in him more so, because he had proved he could sire a healthy son, I can sympathise with Henry V111 on losing this beloved child his pain must have been great, and he probably could not cope with the funeral details so left these with the Duke of Norfolk, his young widow joined him some twenty years or so later she died comparatively young herself, and it is more than likely her remains that lie next to his, he had several siblings and one of these was a sister whom his mother bore after marrying her husband, there is a theory this child could have been the kings but Henry would not bother to acknowledge another daughter, the Howard’s tombs were very elaborate and they did not skimp on the kings bastard son, in its heyday it must have looked brilliant, in Framlingham church there is a picture of young Fitzroy next to the tomb, and it is surrounded by rope, we do not know but had the king not met and fell in love with Anne Boleyn he could have been Henry V1111, I am sure had young Edward not been born the king would have tried to put Fitzroy in the succession after him, he defied the pope he could defy parliament and after all, he came from bastard stock himself, were not the Beaufort’s illegitimate themselves? Proof that crowns were sometimes easily won.
I too feel bad for Henry for losing his beloved Fitzroy at only 17yrs old but as I read your post it occurred to me that from the time of Edward’s birth in 1537 until his own death almost 10 years later it must have been in the back of Henry’s mind that the same thing could happen to his new son. Jane’s death a couple of weeks after giving birth certainly would not have eased that concern that he may leave this world without an heir. Indo not envy Henry VIII’s situation.
Hi Michael, you are very right. Henry gave sanitation and cleaning orders regarding the rooms and hanging and corridors and even people seeing baby Edward that would have impressed Public Health England today. They were extreme even by modern standards. He ordered everything scrubbed three times a day, the cutlery scrubbed and boiled, hands washed regularly, probably a good idea anyway, people had to be inspected and clean, the corridor was scrubbed, his bedding changed several times a day and even clean clothes. Those coming in and out were limited and needed a pass and Mistress Bryan kept a strict regime. He was practically isolated with a little sunlight every day, save for when Henry eventually visited and he was kept closely away from people for the next few years save his nursery staff and household. He was a fairly robust little boy, however, and his only described childhood illness was a very dangerous tertiary fever which is from mosquito from the marshes that covered most of England then. We had a climate more suitable for typhoid and malaria than simply coughing and colds. The Little Ice Age was just ending and our Summer could be very hot. Edward was very sick when he was six of this tertiary fever. Henry missed Jane very much, his withdrawal for several months is evidence of that but he knew it was a dangerous thing to have but one son. He must have been terrified over the possibility of losing Edward before he died because he himself was a second son. In fact in three years his own family had gone from having three sons to having one. Edmund had died in 1497 and Arthur in 1502 and then Henry was the heir aged only eleven. He and Katherine celebrated the birth of an apparently healthy son in 1511,_Henry, Duke of Cornwall, only for him to die of some kind of cot death 52 days later during those celebrations. Henry and Katherine lost at least two or three more baby boys at or just after birth, Mary being the only child to live and Anne lost at least one male child in the womb. Seeing another son die who was healthy for years of what was clearly an inherited illness as his sisters had it too must have been absolutely devastating. In that sense of course one must feel for Henry, because nobody deserves that and this contributed to his personality flaws later in life. I believe Henry was very concerned about Edward and was probably too protective until his later wives brought him to Court. We know he was at Court from time to time because for example Princess Mary held Christmas 1542 at her home in the Midlands and Edward was presented to a small group of Scottish nobles who were returning home under licence. It was a rare public appearance and probably his first formal appearance. He made a well rehearsed speech to thank them for gifts he had received.
There is a scene in the Tudors, imaginative of course, in which Henry pays a visit to Edward in his household and speaks with him about his mother and little Edward takes a thimble that belonged to Jane from his pocket and Henry kisses it. He then takes his leave and practically breaks down. This is the human Henry and as he was witnessed several times getting emotional over the mention of Jane Seymour, yes I believe he did love her or at least her memory and missed her. I believe she was just the wife he needed after the turmoil of previous years and the precious little boy she gave him was treasured and loved. We also know that Edward learned all the boyish things like riding and hunting and the arts of fighting and was physically strong. His mind certainly wasn’t neglected and he wrote chatty little notes to Katherine Parr as a child. Edward kept a diary so we have an insight into his ideas and he wrote his own ideas for the Reformation. This was huge for that time because although we have letters, its the seventeenth century which was known for diaries. People long for a diary from Anne Boleyn but she didn’t keep one, few people did. Anne Clifford is a rare woman who did but that is later during the last couple of decades of Elizabeth I and during the time of King James. Some people wrote copious letters, however, few of them surviving makes it difficult to know everything about them. Mary Tudor, Henry’s sister was a woman of letters. Henry hated letter writing, but the seventeen survivors of his correspondence to Anne Boleyn give us a glimpse of a passionate and rather emotionally charged man. One is stained with tears.
The man was a monster in his later years, I don’t think anyone can deny that, not even his biggest fans and I have to admit to being a Henry Viii fan because I think when you study someone long enough they grow on you and for 28 years there was actually quite a lot to like. I have to confess I was never a great Anne Boleyn fan, although I always thought she was innocent and ill done to by history. I think that has changed over the years, maybe more so on this site, but some people do think she was a saint and the same with Katherine and neither lady was. I don’t believe, however, that Henry was devoid of feeling or incapable of human emotions and hurt. He actually wouldn’t have executed two wives if he was devoid of feeling, its because his feelings were hurt and he was becoming emotionally unstable that he acted in such dreadful ways. He was too emotional if anything, he was insecure. I have to agree with John Matusiak that Henry was a great King but a very poor excuse for a man. He wasn’t the secure, confident, powerful man of legend, anything but that. That’s what contributed to his paranoia, his being easily manipulated by others and easily convinced into sending loyal men that he had warm feelings of friendship for to the block. Unfortunately, Henry wasn’t the only person who ruled to hide these faults, its just that Henry didn’t hold mass executions on entire parts of the country or nobles in the same vein as Ivan the Terrible. Fortunately he wasn’t as paranoid as the Tsars either, he didn’t kill his own son with his bare hands or torture them to death..aka Peter the Great and Ivan the Terrible, the latter wanted to marry Elizabeth I by the way. Henry did enough damage to be remembered as a Tyrant by some historians, but he wasn’t remembered that way by contemporary reputation or his successors. Even the greatly exaggerated 70,000 people his laws are meant to have killed is only stated by Hume well over 100 years after his death, and it was meant as a compliment. The fact is we don’t have a true record of judicial execution from his reign today to check this against, but the Tudors did widely extend the death penalty for numerous crimes and in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries most of the 200 plus crimes one could hang for were still used. In a total of about 5 to 6 million people even that number in 38 years would be fairly note worthy, but in certain parts of the country people saw execution regularly. I hate to think people were devoid of any sympathetic vibes towards those killed but the possibility also sadly remains that most people were used to it and didn’t bat an eyelid. There are recorded incidents in Ireland which has suffered under English rule for centuries of onlookers becoming numb to the regular hangings, so often did they witness them. It sounds horrible, insensitive, but it’s probably true, unless people knew them, they didn’t connect emotionally to those executed. I believe Henry could also distance himself emotionally and literally from the gruesome reality and the real time consequences of his decisions to order an execution. Unlike some Kings he didn’t attend a trial or an execution. Mind you one must have to be hard as nails to witness an execution and not feel something. His poor council had to be present. For them seeing one of their own die on the block, even an enemy they had set up like Thomas Cromwell, I cannot imagine the inner thoughts, feeling and even nightmares. Henry may have been ruthless, cruel and harsh, but I don’t believe he didn’t feel loss greatly or worry about his immediate family, no human being could, not unless they are made from stone.
Hi Claire. I’m sure you saw the same interview I did and I understood Ms. Darsie was going to read original German documents and not the database transcriptions or perhaps I’m mis-remembering what she said or she misspoke. Do you remember what she said?
Hi BQ. I have Retha Warnicke’s book and I believe I was about half way through it when I got sidetracked a year ago or so and completely forgot I had it til you mentioned it. I think I will finish it now. Thank you for the clarity on Heather Darsie’s research.
I have often done that picked up a book started to read it then halfway through got sidetracked, regarding Henry V111 and his feelings, I believe he was a very emotional human being, he was a poet we must not forget and therefore romantic and as we know very chivalrous, he was it is true obsessed with hygiene, I read that also that the king ordered Edwards nursery to be scrubbed daily and the cutlery washed and so on, he was paranoid after losing so many children, that the same thing could happen to Edward, yet as we know he was a healthy little boy and apart from that dangerous bout of tertiary fever he was fine, but it must have been so worrying to Henry who had lost so many children, there could have been a weakness in his first two wives that caused his children to die so young and be stillborn, Jane his third wife was probably able to give him healthy children that would grow up big and strong, what killed Edward and Fitzroy were just the usual fatal diseases around at the time, Henry himself when young had beaten of a strain of malaria proof that he was strong and healthy, but the fatalities of his numerous children are a mystery, his did turn into a tyrannical monster in his middle aged gone was the sunny natured poet of old, although he still kept his chivalric side, although as we know this trait in his nature did not stop him from sending women to their deaths, I think the burning of Anne Askew was particularly horrific, the poor woman had been tortured which was illegal in England, he was ignorant of this but when informed of the event he did not apprehend the perpetrators, she was so broken after being racked she had to be carried to the stake, yet as Bq says Henry V111 did not witness any of these terrible executions himself, this was something an earlier biographer of Anne had pointed out, tyrant he maybe but to the end of his days he could not bear to watch people suffer, maybe he thought he was the king and it was not essential for him to witness an execution,
but this does show he was not completely devoid of emotion,
, traitors though they maybe, also he never saw his victims in person after they were arrested,he never spoke with Cromwell again or More, he never saw Anne Boleyn or Catherine Howard after they were arrested, Catherine was not arrested first of all but kept to her chambers, she tried to see the king but it was not possible, Henry was well aware as king he could not afford to appear soft but his treatment of his two condemned wives was awful, Anne especially as she was dead in just a few weeks of being arrested, Catherine was different the inquiries were going on for some weeks,he truly loved her and had been so very happy with her, this would be normal procedure with any monarch, there was slander about the queen therefore they must get to the bottom of it, it took several months but when her scandalous youth came out in the open, abd after her meetings with Culpeper came out and his boasting about him and the Queen, he had no choice but to charge her and condemn her, but she had no trial which I believe was wrong, he had her condemned by a bill of attainder, this could have been to spare himself the humiliation of another adulterous wife, although there was no proof of adultery Culpeper foolishly said they intended to be lovers, and the king then signed the death warrant that sent her and Lady Rochford who was unbalanced to the scaffold, neither of these two women should have died, I am sure if it had happened in France the king would have merely had her banished from court, so the queen had been indulging in some nocturnal meetings with a handsome young beau, well so had he, one can see Francois lip curling at the thought of Claude having a lover, but no way would he had sent her to her death, kings did not kill their queens, if their conduct was not exemplary well banishment would do maybe a nunnery as well, it had happened throughout history when we look at Henry’s ancestors and how they had dealt with their adulterous wives, they were punished yes, but their blood was not shed, the world must have expected Henry V111 to merely annull his marriage and banish the queen from court, there was no need to have them executed, and there was Dereham who suffered a most horrific death just because he was an old flame of the queens, we can see how his reasoning was not really lucid, he was also determined to have Lady Rochford out to death merely because she was acting on the queens orders, I do believe that Henry V111 felt for their deaths though, I believe all his victims had a profound effect on him, he did not want to condemn Sir Thomas More and was upset when he heard of his death, blaming Anne as they played at cards together, the death of Anne did not seem to affect him much he was most joyous with his third queen, but he was depressed over what he deemed as Catherine’s betrayal, I do not believe he easily sent people to their deaths as we know he never saw them or spoke with them again, and when we consider the heartfelt letter Cromwell wrote to him pleading for mercy mercy mercy, that must have touched him but he was deaf to his pleas, we must not forget also in his quest to rid himself of his second queen he was all to ready to sacrifice his lifelong friend Henry Norris to the block, but he did try to save his life, but we must also recall the tragic monks of the charter house he sent to their deaths and the death of John Aske, also the young poet Henry Howard Earl of Surrey who did nothing wrong legally, but his noble blood irked Henry V111 and by this time in his life he was becoming so paranoid, the death of young Surrey was a tragedy as he was a gifted poet and married with a young son, his father was also in the Tower having displeased the king at some point, for all we know the king could well have sent his sixth wife to the block had Gardiner succeeded in arresting her on heresy charges, she was extremely lucky the king found her presence soothing and she was valuable nursemaid to him, how can we understand the tyranny of Henry V111? I believe his reign the latter part of which was marked by bloodshed would not have occurred had he not been the victim of those two dreadful jousting injuries, it would explain his increasingly bad temper and paranoia and lack of mercy to many of his victims, especially towards his fifth queen and her lady in waiting.
Hello Christine and BQ. First I want to say that Heather Teysko has dropped a new episode of her Renaissance English podcast on the Great Debasement. It’s Short only 17mins.
I agree that for many years Henry was a good king and did a lot of good and early in his rein he seemed like someone you’d want to hangout and have a drink with but even before he reached his most tyrannical point he became much more interested in treasure. Was this Cromwell’s doing? Was it Cromwell’s influence? Henry’s idea? or a combination? Doesn’t really matter. The result was the same, in Henry’s pursuit of wealth the monasteries were dissolved and those that sought help from them had nowhere to go. I have no doubt that some were ‘dens of iniquity’ but all? It seems that Henry turned his back on the people. And then the ridiculous laws that seemed to make almost anything treason had to have been unbearable. He kept changing bthe rules on worship so that the way it was done today may not be the same tomorrow. Don’t forget the debasement of the coinage done in secret. A good indication of Henry’s ego in my mind is the plate in the Great Bible where Jesus is handing the book to Henry and he is portrayed so much larger than Jesus. Henry would have to have ok’d this so if he had any humility he would have said no. (my interpretation).
I don’t know what else Henry could have done to protect Edward. It sounds like he was having everything that could be done practiced given the limited knowledge of disease in the mid 16th century. Sadly Edward had small pox and measles at the same time and thank heavens he survived that but by then his immune system must have been shot and could no longer protect him. I’ve read accounts of what he went through and I wouldn’t wish that suffering on my worst enemy. Even worse is to imagine someone so young going through that.
Yes Henry V111 was loved because he was charming friendly and put people at ease, there was no ceremony with him, he would put his arm about the man in the street and make him feel that he mattered to him, he was good natured and jovial and he was popular because of it, also there was the stark contrast between himself and his father, Henry V11 was quite austere compared to his younger son, when he died people were excited that they had this handsome merry King and there were some possibly who could remember his great grandfather Edward 1V, who had also been very handsome and charming and whom the new king resembled, he married his brothers widow and the future looked golden, but as we have seen no living prince and he became obsessed with the thought of leaving his realm to his only surviving heir, the Princess Mary, he really did turn his country upside down to achieve those odds and yes, he did become more of a despot, after he made himself head of the church he had unlimited power, he had shaken of the shackles of Rome and would rule his own way, this was what More had feared, he did along with Cromwell covet the money taken from the monastery and this can be taken as a sign of greed, his queen wanted it to help the poor and needy, I am sure in his youth he would not have acted in this way, he would have wanted to help his poorest subjects but that king had long gone, and in his place was a tyrant, the long struggle to rid himself of his first Queen I feel had changed his character in some way, his easy nature had been replaced by someone more harder less patient, it had had its effect on Anne to who was described in her youth as sweet and cheerful, now she had turned into a nagging scold, I was not aware of that illustration where Henry is shown as larger than Jesus, that probably does show he was already thinking of himself as more important, possibly than his fellow monarchs in Europe, they were still under the shackles of Rome he on the other hand was not, he was very pious however and I am sure he did not think he was bigger than Jesus, even Henry would not behave so blasphemous, with young Edward he had yes been ill the previous year and had recovered, but modern science tells us the immune system is weakened and the poor boy caught another more fatal illness, maybe it was TB but he did suffer dreadfully and he must have welcomed death, the hope of his nation the one boy his father had killed for to make his birth happen, and at the end it was all for nothing, he was the king we never had as his tenure was so short, to think now a lot of his suffering would have been eased, and he could have survived had he been alive today, he possibly caught pneumonia towards the end and his body had broken out in ulcers , it is pitiful to consider his terrible ending and yes it is a death you would not wish on your worse enemy.
Hi Christine. Any new news on how your boss is doing?
Hi thanks for asking, she’s not good at all, she’s on a dialysis machine, but we’re all routing for her and just praying she will come through, I did google covid 19 and along with respiratory problems it can also affect the heart and the kidneys, it’s so sad but I know many others have loved ones and people they know who are very ill with this awful illness.
I’m sorry to hear that but from what I know of your NHS she couldn’t be in better hands. I’ll certainly keep her in my prayers.
Thank you Michael.
Sorry to hear that, Christine, I will keep Paula in my prayers. She is in good hands.
Thank you also Bq, at least she’s being looked after.
Does anyone believe the rumours about Elizabeth Boleyn sleeping with Henry Viii when he was young, even before his succession? Henry when challenged by George Throgmorton on this point laughed it off admitting he had slept with the daughters but “never with the mother” so it must have been a well known rumour. I really don’t believe Henry slept with anyone before his marriage to Katherine of Aragon and there isn’t any evidence he had affairs even during her early pregnancies. Henry was said by Nicholas Sander to have slept with Elizabeth Boleyn and was the father of Anne Boleyn, which of course was really nonsense, but she could have been the King’s lover for her time. I really don’t believe it, just wondering what others felt about the possibility.
I’ve never thought about it. I guess it’s possible but of all the things I’ve read about Henry I am under the impression that Katherine was his first. If he had slept with Elizabeth it seems to me that would have been a bit of a big deal around court and also his father would have put a stop to it. When did the rumour start? I’ve never even seen it alluded to.
I must admit when I read this piece of information some years ago in a biography I was surprised but soon realised it was just another slur on the Boleyn family, Elizabeth was pretty and possibly a flirt, and there could have been gossip about her when she was at court, but as many biographers of Anne her daughter point out, Prince Henry was far too young to have indulged in a love affair with his future mother in law, many point out the fact that he led a very secluded life and spent most of his time guarded which he hated, he studied a lot and was possibly allowed leisure time to take part in the hunt and swordplay and other pursuits, but he was not allowed to do much else, after his brothers sudden death he became heir apparent overnight and Henry V11 was afraid he might lose this second son also, in short he was so closely watched it would have impossible for him to indulge in a love affair or even a one night stand, the gossip about her two daughters made the mother come in for a bit of scurrilous gossip to, they must have all been quite an attractive trio, but Prince Henry was only around nine when Elizabeth came to court and yet the fact that Throckmorton teasingly remarked to the king about it, shows that gossip once there is hard to erase, after he became king he did have a few love affairs but they were conducted so discreetly we do not really know who he did have an affair with, there was one lady who I can’t recall and Katherine found out about her, she was devastated and up braided Henry quite a bit, I do own a book called the mistresses of Henry V111, now another comes to mind when I thought of the book, it was Jane Popinjay but there were said to be some others, he is said to have owned a house where he took his lovers and only a few knew about it, many of his sweethearts names have been lost to us but there was not hordes of women like Francois, his first serious love affair was with Bessie Blount, Henry V111 has for far to long had the name lecher and seducer attached to him, but the truth is very different, he only had a few affairs conducted most discreetly during his marriage, compared to many kings for example that debauched monarch Francois, of whom I spoke earlier, for the most he was very satisfied with Katherine for a good few years and was a loving and attentive husband, the mistresses he took was possibly just when Katherine was approaching her confinement or maybe earlier, as sex during pregnancy was frowned on, it was considered only natural for kings to indulge in love affairs when they couldnt sleep with their wives, Katherine knew this and understood it, but loving Henry as she did she must have found it hard, she was devastated when his mistress bore the king a son even more so when he paraded him at court.
Yes, this is very true, early in their marriage Thomas and Elizabeth had no such scandal attached to them. On the contrary they were fairly close as a couple, producing five children between 1499 when they married and 1505. Thomas testified himself that Elizabeth was a good wife who brought him a child every year in his letter to Thomas Cromwell in 1537. He was talking about how he was always short of money in those early years. Most historians agree Mary or Anne were the eldest children, born in 1500 and 1501 but the order of their birth is questionable and George is believed to be the youngest child. Two more sons were born inbetween but died in infancy, a couple of plaques have been found in the family Church to a Thomas and Henry Boleyn who died as babies. In the 1560s the date of birth for Anne was put down incorrectly in Roman numbers and translated as 1507 which led to some people to argue for the later date, but her life seems to contradict that. Anne would not have been sent to the Court of the Netherlands aged six or seven and she would have been nineteen when Henry took a fancy to her. She was sophisticated after years in France, 19 is too young for such an impression or to be considered as his Queen.
Elizabeth Boleyn was brought to Court to serve Elizabeth of York and later Katherine of Aragon, both virtuous Queens and Elizabeth was much older than Prince Henry. She also attended her husband most of the time on Court business and went with him to Scotland in 1503 and she was not noted for any scandal at all during those years. The rumours only began after the Easter Sermon of Friar William Peto in 1532 and the letter to George Throgmorton and certainly they were not heard prior to Henry’s imminent marriage to Anne. It’s impossible that Anne was his daughter and even if he found Elizabeth Boleyn attractive, as she probably was, there isn’t any evidence at all that they ever had an affair.
I highly doubt that a six-year-old girl would serve in the court of the Netherlands (considering the date 1507), but I also do not believe that the daughter of a prominent courtier like Thomas was single at 25 (the age she was when starts the courtship, considering the date 1501) or that a thirty-year-old woman was considered a suitable bride to fill the royal nursery. Yes, I know there are cases of women giving birth at forty, but it would not be the first choice for a childless king.
I’m not sure about Ana Bolena’s age. Neither date convinces me.
It is possible of course that when Henry grew older he may have been attracted to Lady Elizabeth Boleyn, but there was never any scandal attached to her and by all reports she was a loving wife to her husband, had such a love affair happened it would have been well before he slept with her eldest daughter, it’s all nonsense, Nicholas Sander really was like an old woman with his scurrilous lewd tales.
The rumours probably only began when Henry made clear that he was going to marry Anne Boleyn but there seems to have been an order to the story. Friar Peto in 1532 denounced Henry and Anne in his Easter sermon as Henry had “meddled with her mother” and this was passed on to George Thogmorton who made his poor joke and several ordinary people spoke to the same thing . Elizabeth Amadas made a prophetic poem about Anne being burned to death and about her mother being bawd to the King and her husband bawd to her. In other words Elizabeth slept around and so did Thomas Boleyn and Henry had slept with mother and two daughters.
A chantry priest, Thomas Jackson, reported to Thomas Cromwell that one James Jackson, had boasted that Henry had lived in adultery with Anne before his marriage and then afterwards. He also accused him of sleeping with mother and both daughters several times. Henry couldn’t have been pleased to hear that as in 1535 it was treason to speak ill of the Queen.
John Vicar of Hale had made several prophecies on the marriage of Henry and Anne going wrong and he also spoke of Henry meddling with her mother as well as both daughters. Later sources made reference to it and to Elizabeth sleeping with Henry when Thomas Boleyn was in France as an Ambassador and that was when Anne was born. However, this is impossible as Thomas didn’t go to France until 1519, although he did spend a year in the Netherlands in 1513/4 which resulted in Anne’s placement there. Later sources included Rastall, Hapsfield and Sanders and Adam Blackman in the later sixteenth and eighteenth century. It was all basically the same rumours. It was of course completely nonsense. Yes, Thomas Boleyn had affairs as did Henry Viii, during a wife’s pregnancy, but there is no evidence that Thomas believed his daughters to belong to anyone but him. Thomas was home between 1501_and 1507 and Henry would have only been nine years old when Anne was born so its impossible that Henry was her father. Even going on a birthday of 1507 Henry would be barely sixteen and his life was very sheltered. He only had eyes for one woman, Katherine of Aragon and that was all he wanted. The fact that he was later horrified at being married to his brothers wife incest makes it impossible as well because this would have been incest, pure and simple, a great sin and crime against God. It is possible that Henry had a brief affair with Elizabeth when he became King but I don’t believe it and these rumours only began with Father Peto in 1532 and were reported over and over by others. Most sources are hostile to Anne, are radically Catholic or simply pro Katherine. Not everyone was a great sinner at the English Court, Anne possibly got her own morality from her mother and in any case had Henry fathered Anne, which was impossible, he certainly wouldn’t have married her. Anne had a number of enemies and a number of radical prophets used her to attack the King and his family and what better way to ruin their reputation than by questioning the Queen’s morals, her mother’s morals and their parentage.
I’m guessing the rumors actually began when people realized that Henry had bedded both sisters. Talk probably started by someone saying ‘it wouldn’t surprise me if he slept with the mother too’ and the rumor mill ran with it. I don’t feel too bad for Henry feeling uncomfortable here as he put himself in this position. Thank you BQ. I stand by Christine’s comments on this. I think she’s probably right.
Yes that’s the way people’s minds certainly do work these three women were not whores, Mary have have slept with the king of France just once and rather unfairly has been called immoral because of it, but when your a young girl how do you say no to a king? She may have felt she had no option and then we come to Henry V111,how do we know she was willing there? we have no idea how and when their affair began or its duration, but two love affairs before marriage does not make a woman a whore, and Anne herself prided herself on her chastity, lady Elizabeth was a conventional Tudor wife, loyal and subservient to her husband and more than likely faithful!
Thsnk you for that useful piece of info Bq as I thought it was just bitchy women’s gossip about Anne’s mother and the king, and then it was something Sander repeated years later, it was true Father Peto was against the king putting aside Katherine, his name I recognise now, he did make that rather inflammatory sermon and the remarks by Elizabeth Armadas who I believe was linked to the king at one point? And the ramblings of Elizabeth Barton they all hated Anne and so of course sister and mother all came in for a bit of mud slinging, that gossip about Anne being Henry’s daughter is frankly just laughable, she was born c 1500 – 1501 just ten years after the king was born, so it would have been impossible for Henry V111 to have fathered her, but mud sticks and fifty years later Sander repeated most of the lurid tales about Anne her sister and their mother, there was the story about Anne’s affair with the family butler and the chaplain, so incensed were her family she was sent to the Low Countries to learn some morals, where did Sanders get his nonsense ? Anne was secured a very valuable post in the household of Margaret of Savoy, it was the finishing school of the day, and there ladies were sent to learn manners deportment music and dancing needlework, how to run a great household when they married etc, her father Thomas was great friends with Margaret and Anne impressed her tutor very much, she was later sent to France and here is where we hear of Mary Boleyn and her morals or rather lack of them, I wonder if Elizabeth Boleyn ever heard the gossip that Throckmorton repeated to Henry, as a well brought up woman of a great house I am sure she would have been deeply offended and insulted.
Anne made a lot of enemies mainly because she was blamed for taking Henry away from his wife and daughter who were popular and real royalty. Henry took the rumours remarkably well, I must admit, laughing off the remarks of George Throgmorton and eventually letting the friar go after initially losing his temper over his sermon. He wasn’t so tolerant of those making prophetic predictions about his death six months after marriage to Anne Boleyn or that she would be burned and the world was coming to an end, like the prophecies of Elizabeth Barton who had visions for a number of years after a serious illness. She impressed some of the most important and powerful people in England including John Fisher, Thomas More and Lady Margaret Pole. More managed to extract himself from the affair while Margaret wrote a letter of apology and received a pardon. Elizabeth Barton and her friends, three friars were unfortunate and were publicly executed.
Henry should have realised the sudden increase in prophetic visions, especially the ones aimed at Anne were due to his marriage to her and been more sensitive to how his decisions were upsetting his people. I don’t believe he did anything to alleviate his people’s fears or to introduce Anne to them in a way which was favourable, in fact he did nothing until they were married. Then he presented Anne as a goddess, a regal and powerful Queen, with all the mystery and majestic imagery of her new status and she was presented in art as some of the most powerful Queens of history, the Queens of legend and she was treated to a fabulous coronation. Anne was crowned with the crown of Saint Edward, the King’s crown and Edith, the Queens crown, the only person to wear both crowns. Of course these crowns were later copies from the mid thirteenth century but they had the same magic as the original crowns. Henry put before the people a mystery, transforming Anne into a glorious picture of benevolent beautiful grace, a gracious and virtuous Queen, a mystical Queen and a Queen who was ordained to give England a much-needed heir. However, people still continued, despite the terrible potential consequences, under new treason laws, spoke out against Anne who made extraordinary efforts to win them over. Anne made efforts to reach the people and reached out with charitable donations, social projects and helping people in person. She won many people over, but a good number still stood against her out of loyalty to Katherine and Mary. Henry was to be disappointed but it didn’t stop him putting on a show.
Anne wasn’t too bad a Queen, actually, she did her best for those who appealed to her and she promoted education and reform and the Bible in English, at least allowed her household to read her own copy and she told them to be chaste and of good character. She increased the charity that was given in her official role as Queen which was noted as being more than Katherine, although one has to be careful because the sources were her fans. One must be careful on both the sources which favoured Anne as well as the ones which are hostile as she was controversial and polarised opinion either way. The truth is more likely something in the middle, although she certainly wasn’t a witch, whore, bitch or adulterous lunatic. Anne had her good and bad points, the same as everyone else but because of what she and Henry had done, everything was exaggerated against her. In her short time some of the most bizarre and apocalyptic prophecies about English monarchy ever recorded appeared, that’s how paranoid some people became with her rise and how much some wanted to destroy her reputation. The King also got the blunt of those attacks with prophecy about him dying and a great plague sweeping through England. That of course did his own paranoia good. That her reputation was still being attacked several decades after her death goes to show just what sort of negative effect Anne’s rise had on some areas of the English psychological mindset.
Henry was pretty tolerant. To a point. But then came The Six Articles, that made almost anything said against the king a treasonable offence and it seemed that what was said was open to interpretation by the king and courts so it would be very easy to find yourself sans head or worse.
The Six Articles totally reversed everything Henry and Anne had pushed for in religious practice and all carried the death penalty. They are more or less six declarations of traditional Catholicism. They were described by reformers as six whips to beat the population with. Both Catholics and Protestants fell foul of Henry’s advancements, either under treason or heresy. It wasn’t the middle way Henry hoped for because no side was happy with it and trouble followed. Henry’s toleration virtually gave way to show him as impartial, but that was following both his three years with Anne, the Supremacy and a bang on the head. After that he didn’t have any more tolerance.