Happy Birthday to Queen Elizabeth I!

On this day in Tudor history, 7th September 1533, Queen Anne Boleyn gave birth to a daughter at Greenwich Palace.

Chronicler Edward Hall recorded the royal birth, writing, “The vii. day of September beyng Sondaie, betwene thre and foure of the Clocke at after noone, the Quene was delivered of a faire Lady […]”. He goes on to record that a Te Deum was sung and “great preparacion was made for the christenyng”, which would take place three days later, on 10th September.

Although the baby wasn’t the longed-for prince, her safe arrival was still worth celebrating in style as it showed that Anne Boleyn was fertile, and there was hope that sons would follow.

The little princess was baptised Elizabeth, the name of both of her grandmothers. She would, of course, grow up to be Queen Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen, Gloriana and Good Queen Bess, a monarch who would rule England for over 44 years and who is known as one of the country’s greatest monarchs.

In our book, The Boleyns of Hever Castle, Dr Owen Emmerson and I dedicate a whole chapter to Elizabeth I, “The Boleyn Queen”, and in it we write “Elizabeth may have been “the lion’s cub”, but she was also, heart and stomach, a Boleyn”. I loved working on that chapter! If you’re interested in the book, you can find out more at getbook.at/boleynhever

Here’s a video of our book around the world…

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12 thoughts on “Happy Birthday to Queen Elizabeth I!”
  1. On this day in Greenwich, the Placentia Palace, once a home to Richard iii as a child, another child was born, to King Henry Viii and Queen Anne Boleyn, at 3 p.m in the afternoon. She was named Elizabeth after the mothers of her parents. There is no direct evidence to say that her birth was a disappointment but to a certain extent it must have been, at least at first. Henry needed a son and Anne had promised him sons but had failed to deliver and Henry’s pride was at stake as he had turned everything upside down in order to marry Anne and he had thought that she carried his heir. Legend says that all of the astrological people had told him it was a boy. He might have gotten better information from a wedding ring on a piece of string lol. However, the child was healthy and showed that Anne was indeed fertile and more children would follow. Henry put on a brave face, told the Venetian Ambassador that sons would follow and Elizabeth was treated as his heir, given a fine Baptism, the celebrations continued, she was treated as the High and Mighty Princess of England, had a luxurious household and servants, her parents soon showed their pride and delight in their little girl and Anne was a devoted mother.

    Anne was a hands on mother. Henry was also doting on little Elizabeth from early on and carried her about for visitors with pride. Elizabeth was given her own establishment with Mary degraded to be her servant and declared illegitimate. These would be hard years for the 17 years old Princess and she was estranged from Henry for the next three years. However, for now this little baby was the centre of attention and Anne had to recover before getting back to her duty of producing an heir.

    1. Happy Birthday, Christine. I think its also the Birthday of the Anne Boleyn Files, so Happy Birthday to them as well.

      Enjoy the day.

  2. Anne’s pregnancy was said to have been rather difficult yet she endured the water pageant in her honour and later her coronation, which involved having to walk bare feet to the Abby and having to prostrate herself on the ground whilst the archbishop said a prayer over her, it was a long and arduous day and yet she carried it of with aplomb, the banquet which lasted several hours and yet at least she could sit and relax, with her ladies to see to her every wish, she took to her birthing chamber about two weeks before her baby was born and surprised everyone because queens were expected to spend about six weeks there, Elizabeth could have been a premature baby but many must have thought Anne had deliberately deceived people into believing she was born in wedlock, the birthing chamber was an almost sacred place for queens it was designed almost like a womb, dark with little air allowed in, no men only women to attend to her, and signs of her high status was evident in the rich displays of gold and silver plate, the walls were hung with beautiful tapestries with soothing scenes, as it was believed some images could frighten the mother and child, Anne had a huge ornate bed which had once been part of a French kings ransom, and a pallet bed at the bottom, the midwife was in attendance and there were holy relics to aid the mother as well as herbs to soothe and she had wine and music played, it was a very a calm and idyllic atmosphere but maybe rather stifling to with the heavy curtains shutting out the sunlight, however a small amount was let in but on the whole Anne and her ladies lived for several weeks in a luxurious but dark prison, Elizabeth was born between three and four in the afternoon on seventh of September 1532, her birth was a disappointment but it proved that Anne could carry full term and the baby was healthy, Henry V111 declared sons would soon follow and yet it was the start of the decline in Anne’s power over the king, he still loved her he was still besotted but he had not torn his kingdom in two for another daughter, for now the soothsayers must have hidden themselves away and the proclamation that declared the queen had given birth to a fair prince was hurriedly erased out and Princess was added, a tournament had been arranged which was cancelled but the baby still had a lavish baptism and there was a banquet afterwards, Anne mean whilst was churched, a sacred ritual where the mother went to church and gave her thanks to god for a safe delivery, she had to abstain from sexual relations for some time which no doubt she was grateful for, the sources tell us that Anne delighted in her child and loved dressing her in beautiful clothes, the baby was christened Elizabeth in honour of Anne’s own mother and Elizabeth of York, she was hailed as her fathers heir, the high and mighty Princess Elizabeth she had her own household and was a very important precious little girl, several years later her status changed completely when her volatile mother having failed to give the king a son, yielded her neck to the executioners sword, and when her head rolled in the straw Elizabeth’s life changed forever, now deemed a bastard she lost her title of Princess, her position as her fathers heir, and she was viewed with mistrust and suspicion, she was Nan Bullen’s bastard some questioned if she was even the kings, yet this little girl with her tumbling red curls and her mother’s wandering dark eyes, grew up to be one of England’s greatest monarchs, she is remembered today as ‘ Good Queen Bess’ she was a legend an icon in her own lifetime, and that legend still continues to this day, her tomb in Westminster Abby is magnificent, her image taken from her death mask shows a strong featured woman with her mother’s oval face her heavy lidded eyes, and fathers aquiline slightly hooked nose, a huge ornate ruff surrounds her neck and her hands are clasped in prayer, the pose adopted by the regal dead from every century, her portraits to hang in art galleries in Britain and some abroad, her image is famous and the one where she stands on the map of England the armada portrait as it is called, is very beautiful, she is dressed all in white embroidered with precious gems, and her white laced ruff resembles angels wings behind her, her hair is more golden than red and yer her face is quite mature, there was no artifice by the painter to portray her as a young woman, she was fifty five at the time of the battle and she is shown thus in her picture, she enjoyed several names during her long reign including Gloriana, the virgin queen, the Faerie Queen, a eulogy dedicated to her by Edmund Spenser and yet she was sometimes called bad queen Bess as well, and had a reputation for being rather mean with money, she had terrifying rages reminiscent of both her parents and could be neurotic and hysterical, a trait inherited from her mother, she did have the common touch with her subjects who adored her and loved being compared to her father, whom she revered even though he had sent her mother to her death, she is an iconic monarch like Henry V111, and yet it was her brother whom he had pinned his hopes on as heir to his kingdom, sadly Henry V111’s dream of having a son who would rule for decades and securing the throne for his further descendants never materialised, his only living son Edward died whilst on the verge of a teenager and that left just his two daughters, a situation which he had viewed as deplorable and for which he had ventured into six marriages for, yet it was Elizabeth who raised England to glory whilst at the same time ensured the death of his dynasty, the last Tudor monarch never married and therefore left no heir, famous for not marrying in complete contrast to her father who married multiple times, she nevertheless left a country much richer and stable than when she inherited it forty five years before, RIP Good Queen Bess, you are still remembered to this day.

    1. I was amazed when our friends came back from Colchester to go to a wedding with us. As Shirley got out of the car I was amazed when she suddenly moved her belly bumb to the front and then the side so as she could get out of the car. I didn’t see it as I was leaning in to speak to her because it was moved to her other side. I didn’t even know the bump was flexible and can move. Just as well, especially if you are going to lay on it. I suppose when the bloke who wrote the coronation service he didn’t consider that the Queen might be pregnant. It must have been unusual for a new Queen to be heavily pregnant at her coronation and they may have cancelled it otherwise. But here Anne was showing that she was fruitful and her marriage to Henry was blessed by the Lord. It was very hot that June as well. I can imagine Anne getting annoyed and grumpy. She is recorded as having words with her father and the King. Women can be unpredictable during pregnancy, its all those extra hormones. She must have been exhausted as well. Even unlaced, clothes then didn’t exactly make you comfortable during the last few months with a growing belly. The only good thing about the coronation was that Anne was bare footed as she walked the short distance into the Abbey on the carpet. With swelling feet and ankles that was one blessing, not having shoes on. She would have needed help to prostrate herself, probably four ladies. Whose daft idea was that, I wonder? Some ancient monk from hundreds of years earlier. Only a man could come up with an in practical ceremony. Not to mention being anointed on the breasts. A man definitely came up with that one. Didn’t it occur to them that women are made differently? Men dress us in ridiculous clothing and then expect us to perform contortions during religious ceremonies designed by them and for them. I would love to see a man have a baby and not complain. And to top it all, it was our fault according to them if the kid was the wrong sex or if something went wrong. Of course it was, their role is negotiable. Yet its men making all the rules, even for the midwives, who have only been doing this for centuries. It was dangerous enough having a baby in Tudor times, without men making it three times as worse.

      Hard as confinement was, at least during that period the woman could put her feet up and be waited on. Not a man in sight.

  3. Ha ha yes Lyn, only a man could think up those daft rules, really the birthing chamber was quite possibly a blessed relief for Anne when she entered it, as she must have thought ‘now I can do what I like’, and at least it did not drag on interminably like other queens pregnancies, as she was there for only about a fortnight, she could just relax and her ladies waited on her hand and foot, but the lack of sunlight would have bothered me, sadly we know this was the only time Anne was to enter the birthing chamber, as she lost all her other babies, the crown she bartered for and for which she had promised Henry V111 sons, began to rest very shakily on her head, one has no way of knowing what sex your child would be, it is out of the mother’s control, and whilst the 16th century male mind did put all the responsibility on the mother, it is the fathers sperm who determines what sex his baby will be, unknown in that far of primitive world, Henry V111 and his fellow monarchs would have baulked at the knowledge, the woman carried the child, how she behaved what she ate if she displeased the almighty all had an effect on her baby, Henry V111 believed that his first marriage was cursed, a sign of gods displeasure, for marrying his brothers widow, but his reasoning was somewhat biased due to wanting rid of that stale marriage, when he fell in love with Anne Boleyn he believed she could give him sons, as his superstitious mind thought god would be pleased, yet when she failed he sought for another reason for gods displeasure, that was it, he had had carnal relations with her sister, and because he was heartily sick of her he wanted out of the marriage, and wished to marry the docile Jane Seymour, and because she gave him a son, he believed god had approved of his marriage, the emotional misery Henry V111 caused his wives in order to get a son, was possibly the real reason his second daughter never married, today a psychologist would possibly have a field day with Elizabeth if he were able to tap into her mind, Mary also for she grew up very bitter and sadly was denied any real happiness in her marriage, and never knew the joy of motherhood either, it was really only his son Edward V1 cold and remote as he was, who never suffered psychological damage from his fathers marital history.

    1. I know Lady Margaret Beaufort made Ordinances on how the birthing chamber should be hung and for the Baptism etc for the comfort of the mother and safe delivery of her children, but the act of withdrawal and confinement was universally observed across Europe. It had existed for high born women for a long time and the Church held a service 40 days after the birth to bring a mother back into public life, called Churching. This consisted of prayers for thanksgiving, prayers of blessings and for the safe delivery of the mother, regardless of the fate of her child and the mother went through a ceremony of purification as well. These rules were made by the male authorities and clerics and these rules set women’s lives into compartments which ruled their lives and thought. Even Anne was subject to those rules, especially in the Royal bedroom and role as a Dynasist. As Queen her main role was to produce sons. The birth of Elizabeth had hinged on a promise, the promise of being able to produce a healthy son. Henry’s proposal, written in a Book of Hours was made with that promise in mind, otherwise there wasn’t any point, even if he did love her. Henry was still married to Katharine and that would be more of a problem than he anticipated. The case dragged on for seven years. Henry and Anne were in a loving relationship and a partnership which was mutually beneficial and intellectual, but the arrangement for marriage was based on the belief that Anne was fertile and could produce healthy living sons. Henry had once loved Katherine, perhaps more than he loved Anne or any other woman, but she hadn’t been able to give him an heir. All around him Kings had sons, nobles had sons, friends had sons and so on and he embarrassingly had only one living child, a daughter, Princess Mary. Few people acknowledged that a woman could rule and despite the presence of female rulers in Spain and the Netherlands, the idea of a female King was very alien. We know that Mary and Elizabeth sat on the throne and that Elizabeth in particular is praised as a capable ruler. Anne didn’t know that her daughter would rule England and she too held the belief that Henry still needed a son to succeed him. There was no speech predicting Elizabeth would be a great Queen in the Tower of London as there was in Anne of 1000 Days, great as that scene was. There was fear for Elizabeth, who was a tiny tot and vulnerable after Anne was condemned to death. Henry had dotted on both of his daughters at one point, looking on them as his heirs until a baby brother came along. However, Henry did need a son. The Tudor Dynasty was young and he was the second Tudor and that meant insecurity. He had to end his marriage of eighteen years in 1527 and marry elsewhere. He was passionately in love with Anne Boleyn and she loved him in her own way. She was very amenable to the idea of being his wife and she had no reason not to expect to give Henry sons. Her family on both sides had sons as well as daughters and she had a lot in common with the King. Henry respected Anne for her mind and education but once she was Queen all that would have to wait until she had given birth to his desired heir. I know I am putting the emphasis on Anne but that was the way people thought in the sixteenth century. It was the woman who was blamed for the sex and health of the baby and Henry certainly aimed his discontent at Anne, in ways he had never done with Katharine. His age might have had something to do with it. Henry was in his mid forties and time was running out. The main problem was Katharine and her refusal to accept the annulment of her marriage. The Pope refused to do anything and Henry and Anne were trapped in a long process of legal cases for several years. By the time of their marriage in 1533 Anne was in her mid thirties and her own fertility was no longer at its height. The marriage and the coronation made much of the legitimacy of her marriage to Henry and the delivery of a son later in the year was meant to show that God blessed their union in a way He had not blessed Henry’s marriage to Katharine. Therefore the birth of a daughter sort of made liars of their hopes and expectations. The couple put on a good face and carried on regardless, declaring that sons would follow. To be fair, by the end of the year, Anne was pregnant once more, so that promise was still alive. Anne could never truly be Queen while Katharine was alive, so her loss of two children was no more than a private sorrow. When her rival died in January 1536, Anne alone was Queen, she alone was Henry’s true wife, she was carrying the promised son and indeed her unborn baby was a boy. Tragically, Anne miscarried and all of her hopes and her future was gone. Ironically at the moment of her legitimizing, of her happy blessing, of new triumph, Anne had everything snatched away from her and with the loss of her baby boy came the loss of the man who had once worshipped her and declared his everlasting love.

  4. Anne, clever and brave as she was made a very foolish mistake by promising Henry V111 sons, I think her sense of power was overwhelming, and sadly clouded her judgement, here the king of England was declaring his love for her he promised they would marry, buoyed up by excitement and a sense of destiny, she must have believed she would be able to achieve his wish, no doubt God had chosen her to be the ancestor of a new Tudor race of kings, what could go wrong? Both Anne and the king were supremely confident things would go their way, even that their wish for a smooth annulment would not be hindered, as it was, they faced opposition from everyone, from the kings wife Katherine who had her nephews ear, the powerful Charles V, who himself had the pope in his grasp, from Spain herself whose threat of war loomed, from the people in his own kingdom, his able minister the Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, the clergy his ministers who all advised against it, then his subjects those who looked on sullenly whenever Anne rode out, their loyalty was all for the queen whom had been their adored mistress for twenty years, finally the kings own daughter who sided defiantly with her mother, it was not going to be an easy ride, yet this couple, Henry V111 spurred on by a very real passionate love, and the thought of rosy cheeked babes in the nursery, and Anne Boleyn spurred on by the image of the glittering crown, both each wishing to achieve their dream fed the other with their entwined ambition of their own desires, outside this world of their own making, stood the other woman Katherine of Aragon, daughter of Spain, the kings consort, the wronged wife, the eternal triangle inevitably brings distress to one of the party, in such cases it is nearly always the betrayed wife, and there was Henry V111 in the middle of two very tenacious outspoken women, both virtual firebrands, the wife Katherine obstinately refusing to let Henry go, and the mistress Anne waiting and waiting for the day her lover would leave his wife, in the end frustration got the better of Henry and Anne was by then pregnant, to hell with the pope he must have thought, to hell with the world! He married Anne whilst the pope was considering the kings wish for the annulment and at the end refused it, the secret wedding ceremony where Henry V111 berated the priest, because the holy man wished to see the popes decree of the annulment has a comic twist to it, one can see the timorous priest cowering before the king, red faced and impatient telling him to hasten it along, Anne was triumphant now she was queen, but in doing so she was now more vulnerable than when she had been the mistress, she could not plead could not barter, could not declare she would return home to Hever, she was now duty bound by convention, by the stifling rules of age old monarchy to carry out her role as consort, she must now bring forth the sons which were expected of her, and for which unwisely she had promised her spouse.

  5. I think that’s at the heart of the problem with Anne, she was a powerful Royal Mistress in the French style. She was supremely confident and she was thought of as being someone who had influence with the King. Anne acted with confidence, she knew her intelligence, she used it well and she was excellent at conversation. Conversation was an art form, especially at Court and in the leading sophisticated Courts of Europe. England was beginning to open up to those influences and we see them at the time of Henry vii and Henry Viii.

    She was promoting French style and influence, something not encouraged usually as they were regarded as the enemy, the influence of the Reformer circles in Germany and France, whereas Spain and Burgundy had been our biggest influence before this. Anne was also edept at wearing and promoting English styles and uses of our Medieval culture when powerful statements were needed. Its not true that she only used the French hood or introduced it, but she made it popular. Katharine and Jane Seymour wore it as well to make a statement. However, Anne did wear her jewellery and dresses in such a way that they showed her French ways and she was at ease with foreign visitors at Court.

    As Estelle pointed out in the Boleyns Anne had the most remarkable eyes and communicated everything through her eyes. She knew how to use her eyes very well and she knew the art of rhetoric from her education and this was very much a useful when speaking with Ambassadors and so on. With all of this confidence its not surprising that Anne made mistakes and thought she had a destiny.

    All of this is good in a mistress, but Henry didn’t want a supremely confident wife, he wanted a Tudor wife. Anne wanted to remain the same because this was the person Henry fell in love with. I think she thought he would allow her to remain the same but Henry was desperately seeking a couple of sons first and that made him turn against Anne. They were just too different in their outlook and Henry had changed. It wasn’t going to work without healthy heirs.

  6. When Anne accepted the offer of marriage from a suffering King Henry, that is on the image of the Suffering Christ in his Book of Hours, he was given her response that she would be daily kind to him and constant on the image of the Announcement of the Angle to Mary that she will be with Child, the Christ Child, in the same Book of Hours. The importance here is that the religious nature of the Book made their words Eternal and sincere. The message to Henry was clear and Anne was telling him that she was fertile and that God would give them a son through her. It wasn’t her brightest move but to be honest Anne didn’t have any reason not to think she was able to have sons. Her family had healthy sons and Henry’s father had three sons, even though two died young. That wasn’t unusual and at least one son had a good chance of survival which meant that Anne had a reasonable chance of giving Henry a healthy son. Henry got the message loud and clear and he must have proposed formally and Anne accepted, but also at the back of it was a crazy notion that Anne could be Queen, no matter what and the ambition to succeed, in spite of the obstacles against them.

    Henry and Anne were not going to have an easy time and the whole thing took seven long and hard years with a very public Court, several visits to the Vatican and several embassies back and forth from Rome, Spain, France and England. Anne and Henry must have thought they would never get married and Henry became increasingly aggressive in his letters to the Pope, trying to force a decision in his favour. In the end it became clear that no annulment was going to forthcoming and Henry took matters into his own hands. By forcing Convocation to accept him as Head of the Church in England, Henry usurped the Pope’s authority to decide in this and all matters referred to him instead. Henry was impatient and so was Anne who pushed him on for results, leading to the downfall of Thomas Wolsey and discreet rise of Thomas Cromwell and Thomas Cranmer who arranged Henry’s marriage.

    Anne must have hoped to remain the one in charge after she became Queen but Henry had other ideas. Anne remained forward in her ways, falling out even with her own father during her pregnancy with Elizabeth, giving orders to Ambassadors and trying to make policy. With a lack of an heir this wasn’t going to do her any favours and Anne came under increasing pressure. That pressure showed when she made threats against Katherine and Mary and it was clear that Henry was tired of her temper by the time of her tragic miscarriage of a boy in January 1536. Anne was in danger from that moment. Henry’s response was violent and horrific. It sent six innocent people, Anne included to the scaffold. It left his daughter out in the cold and illegitimate before her third birthday. Now we know that Elizabeth was to go on to become Queen aged 25 in 1558, a successful Queen, but as a very young child, her entire future was left uncertain.

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