Happy Mother’s Day to those of you celebrating today. I hope you get thoroughly pampered and have a lovely relaxing day. I’ve used this photo a few times before but it’s such a pretty one that I thought I’d use it again. It’s of one of my Anne Boleyn roses. They’re not out yet this year but they’re gorgeous when they are.

As a special Mother’s Day gift, I want to share an extract from a webinar I did on Anne Boleyn, her pregnancies and motherhood. This extract is about Anne and her involvement with Elizabeth’s upbringing…

Although the birth of a little girl, rather than the expected son and heir, must have been a disappointment, Anne was quite clearly pleased with and proud of her little girl. In Elizabeth’s Women, Tracy Borman writes of how courtiers were often embarrassed by Anne’s displays of affection for her baby and that she loved to have Elizabeth next to her on a cushion, rather than shut away in a nursery. Elizabeth’s removal from court to her own household at Hatfield on the 10th December 1533 must have been a huge wrench for Anne. Even though it was just a few miles away, Anne would not have been expected to visit her daughter very much and, instead, would have been expected to get on with her queenly duties and leave Elizabeth’s upbringing to Lady Bryan and her staff.

We don’t know exactly how much time Anne was able to spend with Elizabeth, but we know the following:

  • That Anne visited Elizabeth at Hatfield in Spring 15341
  • That Elizabeth was moved to Eltham, just 5 miles from Greenwich, at the end of March 1534 and that her parents visited her there a few weeks later2
  • That she was at court with her parents for five weeks in the first quarter of 15353
  • That she was at court at Christmas 1535 and was still there at the end of January 1536 when news reached the court of Catherine of Aragon’s death – Henry paraded his daughter around in celebration.
  • That she was a court the end of April 1536, shortly before Anne’s fall- Alexander Alesius described Anne holding Elizabeth in her arms while she appealed to her husband:
    “Never shall I forget the sorrow I felt when I saw the most serene Queen, your most religious mother, carrying you, still a little baby, in her arms, and entreating the most serene King your father in Greenwich Palace, from the open window of which he was looking into the courtyard when she brought you to him. I did not perfectly understand what had been going on, but the faces and gestures of the speakers plainly showed the King was angry, although he could conceal his anger wonderfully well.”4
    Starkey discounts this, saying that Elizabeth was most probably at Hunsdon.
  • That Anne kept in touch with Elizabeth’s nurse, Lady Bryan.

At end of day, Henry and his council had the last word regarding Elizabeth’s upbringing. When instructions were given to wean Eliz at 25 months it was given “by his grace, with the assent of the queen’s grace”5 but Anne did write to Lady Bryan.

The stylish Anne involved herself in buying items for her daughter’s chamber and for her clothing,6 fringed crimson satin cover for head of cradle and sent “a pair of pyrwykes” or pilliwinks which were a device to straighten the fingers.7

The “Account of materials furnished for the use of Anne Boleyn and Princess Elizabeth 1535-36” by William Loke, which can be read at http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?view=image;size=100;id=nnc1.cu04147324;page=root;seq=3;num=1 included the following items for Elizabeth:

  • white sarsenet to line an orange velvet gown
  • black velvet for a partlet
  • black satin for a partlet
  • russet velvet
  • black buckram
  • crimson, purple, white, yellow sarsenet
  • yellow velvet to edge yellow kirtle
  • white damask for a kirtle
  • white velvet for edgingthe kirtle
  • russet damask for a bed cover
  • black satin for muffler and taffeta for lining
  • embroidered purple satin sleeves
  • green velvet for edging green satin kirtlet
  • black velvet for mufflers

“The Queen’s reckoning, beginning in December 1535. Hen. VIII.” in Letters and Papers8 gives more of the Queen’s expenses, including the following items for Elizabeth:

  • Boat-hire from Greenwich to London and back to take measure of caps for my lady Princess, and again to fetch the Princess’s purple satin cap to mend it.
  • A purple satin cap, laid with a rich caul of gold, the work being roundelles of damask gold, made for my lady Princess.
  • “A pair of pyrwykes” for my lady Princess, delivered to my lady mistress.
  • 2¼ yds. crimson satin, at 15s., an ell of “tuke” and crimson fringe for the Princess’s cradle head.
  • 2 fine pieces of “nydle rybande” to roll her Grace’s hair withal.
  • A white satin cap laid with a rich caul of gold for the Princess, 4l., and another of crimson satin.
  • A fringe of Venice gold and silver for the little bed.
  • A cap of taffeta covered with a caul of damask gold for the Princess.

This list can be read at http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=75431

Anne and Elizabeth’s Future

On 26th April 1536, just days before her arrest, Queen Anne Boleyn met with her chaplain of two years, her ‘countryman’, 32 year old Matthew Parker. Parker recorded later that Anne had asked him to watch over her daughter, the two year-old Princess Elizabeth, if anything happened to her. In other words, Anne was entrusting him with her daughter’s spiritual care.

Eric Ives writes that this was a request that Parker never forgot and something which stayed with him for ever. Parker obviously came to be important to Elizabeth because she made him her Archbishop of Canterbury in 1559. It was a post which Parker admitted to Lord Burghley, he would not have accepted if he “had not been so much bound to the mother”.9

By getting Parker involved with Elizabeth’s upbringing, her future, Anne was putting her daughter into the hands of a man with important connections, connections with a set of men with humanist and Protestant ideals who would influence and help her daughter – men like John Cheke, Roger Ascham, William Cecil, Anthony Cooke, William Grindal and John Dee. Three of these men – Grindal, Cheke and Ashcam tutored Elizabeth, and Dee may even have spent time with the young Elizabeth, he certainly taught Edward VI and Robert Dudley. It is no coincidence that Elizabeth relied on these men when she became queen? Her mother had made sure that she was surrounded by men who could help her in the future.

Elizabeth’s Household of Boleyn Relatives

The young Elizabeth was also surrounded by Boleyn relatives:

  • Anne Boleyn’s uncle, Sir John Shelton, was comptroller of the joint household of Elizabeth and Mary, and was helped by his wife, Lady Anne.
  • Lady Margaret Bryan, Elizabeth’s nurse, was related to Anne Boleyn by marriage.
  • Katherine Champernon (or Champernowne) was appointed to Elizabeth’s household in July 1536 and became her governess in 1537 – she became related to the Boleyns when she married Sir John Ashley (Astley) in 1545. Ashley’s mother, Anne Wood, was the sister of Lady Elizabeth Boleyn whose husband, James Boleyn, was the brother of Anne Boleyn’s father, Thomas Boleyn.
  • Thomas Parry, Elizabeth’s cofferer or treasurer, was was also connected to the Boleyns. His wife, Anne Reade, was the widow of Sir Adrian Fortescue, whose mother, Alice Boleyn, was an aunt of Queen Anne Boleyn.

J.L. McIntosh, writes:

“The presence of these Boleyn relations and the evidence of Queen Anne’s interest in the material splendor of her daughter’s environment indicates that Anne, before her death, was an important, if indirect, early influence on the development of her daughter’s household’s culture. Henry VIII funded the household and had the final say in all important aspects of his daughter’s upbringing, such as when she was weaned, but it was Anne who was guiding the routine behavior and agenda of the household. She instructed her relative, Anne Shelton, to ensure that Mary—when living in the conflated household in 1534—did not attempt to usurp Elizabeth’s status by claiming the princely title. By installing her relatives and supplementing Henry’s expenditure on the household with her own purchases of lavish clothing for Elizabeth, Anne was attempting to ensure that Elizabeth would receive the treatment due to a princess and heir to the throne. The queen also may have begun to draw up plans for Elizabeth to receive a Protestant humanist education.”10

Although Anne was unable to bring her daughter up, because she died before her daughter turned three, she made sure from the start that her daughter was well taken care of and had the appropriate household for a royal princess. Her instructions to Matthew Parker, one of the Cambridge set of men I have already mentioned, is evidence that Anne was not just ensuring that Elizabeth’s spiritual needs would be met, she was also making sure that Elizabeth would have the connections she needed to become a formidable woman and queen. Anne may have died while her daughter was young, but her influence was kept alive by those who surrounded the young Elizabeth, I believe.

On This Day in History

On this day in history, 10th March 1524, King Henry VIII suffered a jousting accident after he forgot to lower his visor in a joust against Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. According to the records, “the duke struck the king on the brow right under the guard of the headpiece on the very skull cap or basinet piece”, splintering and sending splinters into the King’s helmet.
Fortunately the King survived the blow but a mortified Suffolk vowed that he would never joust against the King again. The King laughed it off, saying that it was no-one’s fault and that he and his sight were saved.

Notes and Sources

  1. LP vii. 296, x. 913
  2. LP vii. 509
  3. LP vi. 1486, viii.440
  4. Calendar of State Papers Foreign, Elizabeth, Volume 1: 1558-1559, 1303
  5. LP ix.568
  6. Ives, Eric, The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn (2004), p255
  7. LP x.913
  8. LP x. 913
  9. The Correspondence of Matthew Parker, D.D., Archbishop of Canterbury: Comprising Letters Written by and to Him, from A.D. 1535, to His Death, A.D. 1575 (edited for the Parker Society by John Bruce, and Thomas Thomason Perowne, 1853).
  10. McIntosh, J. L., From Heads of Household to Heads of State: The Preaccession Households of Mary and Elizabeth Tudor 1516-1558 (2008)

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15 thoughts on “Happy Mother’s Day”
  1. Regarding children being taken away and set up in their own households ,this was the normal custom back then ,but i think it was very cruel and cant understand why the children could at least not stay even in the same household with nannies ,and also these “households “needed a huge amount of people to run it ,but to take a child of 3 months old away from its mother is just awful for the mother ,maybe thats why so many royal children grow up so detached from parents and feel more for theirnannies as with elizabeth 1 did with hers.

  2. One of my criteria to judge a fiction about Anne Boleyn and/or Elizabeth is how the author depicts their relationship and Anne’s love/lack of love for her baby. She was a maternal woman, who loved her daughter with all her heart, as it is said in the article; and when her miscarriages are often only considered as losing ground with Henry a woman like her certainly went through the visceral pain of a mom losing a baby…

  3. It is easy to see why Elizabeth was such an effective and memorable Queen Regnant – her mother, Anne Boleyn, was a very intelligent and visionary woman, who made preparations for Elizabeth’s future. Anne had to see the writing on the wall, without the delivery of a son and heir – Henry was desperate enough to set aside a woman he had dearly loved, to whom he had been married twenty some odd years, a woman with a VERY powerful and influential family to marry Anne herself, who lacked Katharine of Aragon’s international connections.

    That desperation continued throughout Anne’s pregnancies and subsequent miscarriages, and Anne herself had enemies at court who would waste NO time in turning the besotted King against her at every opportunity. Anne was probably well aware that those enemies were behind the promotion of Jane Seymour, and that she, herself was likely to find herself reduced in status, if not killed outright. So Anne took steps to make sure that her one and only living child would have a first class education, whatever the future might bring, in hopes that Elizabeth would eventually be able to rule successfully. I wonder what Anne would have thought had she seen how brilliantly all of her careful planning for the future of her beloved daughter had paid off.

    I kind of imagine Elizabeth going through the pearly gates, being met by a proud, smiling Anne saying, “Good job, young lady – or should I say, Your Majesty?”

  4. It’s a wonder to me that children in royal families at that time could ever have felt any closeness at all to their parents considering that the custom of the day was contrived to keep them apart.

  5. When even Anne’s enemies begrudgingly, unquestionably attested to Anne’s good mothering, there is little doubt Elizabeth had a both a loving and a strategic mother whose care included the love and affection in their contact, but also the long-term “big picture” planning which was, as Claire points out, the environment which nourished her growing years so that she eventually became the person behind the crown and of the crown.

    Sadly our current world has many children who spend much less time together with their children than Anne and Elizabeth, and those children need all of us in society to somehow help them be nourished as human beings and learn ways to support themselves when they do not have even the legacy of the infrastructure of care that Anne left her daughter.

  6. Happi Mothers Daye! I agree with all of the statements above. It is so sad to see, read as well as hear about. She (Anne) was so ahead of her time that it is unbelievable. She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

  7. Love the image of Anne with Elizabeth beside her on a cushion! I have always felt that Elizabeth inherited many of her mother’s personality traits – both good and bad -.I think it was a case here of nature over nurture. Incidently in Canada Mother’s Day is in May.

    1. Hi Denise,Yes we in the states have Mothers day in May aswell,so that threw me when I saw the post.I to think Elizabeth inherited alot from Anne aswell as Henry what great gene pool!! It’s no wonder why she was such a Great Queen,by far best Queen that ever ruled.Happy Mothers Ladies! Kind Regards Baroness x

      1. Just another thing to point out most baby’s of Royal’s were raised with thier wet nurses and not by the mothers,that goes back farther back then Tudor times.Even if you were not ,a so called royal but had a title or wealthy the baby was cared for by the wet nurse. Regards Baroness x

      2. Yes, in the states I as well am used to seeing muggers day in May, but as a mother I definitely believe we deserve two if them and welcome both. Cheers ladies, always wonderful to share a holiday in such fine company.
        Lady Brooke

        1. Had to laugh at your typo? ‘muggers day’ if you look at all the commercialism that put into Mother’s Day now-a-days, it could be well termed as Muggers Day…lol… 🙂

  8. I almost just had a bit of a panic-attack… I didn’t know the UK and the US have different dates for Mother’s Day.

    1. Cait,I to thought OMG how did I miss Mothers Day as my mom and mother inlaw are still here,gave me a bit if a scare aswell! Happy Mother Day Baroness to all x

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