Here in Spain I’ve been busy sending messages to all of my friends named Ana because today is the feast day of St Anne, or Santa Ana, the mother of the Virgin Mary and the grandmother of Jesus Christ.

I’m also thinking of Anne Boleyn day on her saint’s day and wondering if she was born on the feast of St Anne or whether she was simply named after a family member, perhaps one of her godmothers, after all she had aunts named Anne.

St Anne was very important to Anne Boleyn. Here is an excerpt from an article I wrote a few years ago:

In his book, The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, Eric Ives explains how John Leland and Nicholas Udall’s tableau at Leadenhall in Gracechurch Street for Anne Boleyn’s coronation procession took St Anne as its theme. There, on a hill below a tree stump, sat St Anne and her descendants – her daughters, the Blessed Virgin, Mary Salome and Mary Cleopas; and their families. The message of this tableau was that the pregnant Anne Boleyn was England’s hope for an heir and that she “would go on to rival the maternal success of her patron saint” and namesake. At this tableau, Anne was addressed by a boy speaking verses written by Nicholas Udall:

For like as from this devout Saint Anne
Issued this holy generation,
First Christ, to redeem the soul of man;
Then James th’apostle, and th’evangelist John;
With these others, which in such fashion
By teaching and good life, our faith confirmed,
That from that time yet to, it hath not failed…

As Ives points out, it was all rather ironic seeing as St Anne only produced daughters!

As the boy finished speaking, out of the tree stump flowed red and white roses and then, out of a cloud painted on the roof of the tableau, swooped Anne Boleyn’s white falcon. The falcon landed on the stump and flowers and was then crowned by an angel with an imperial crown. It was Anne Boleyn’s falcon badge brought to life, explaining that Anne would revive the dead, barren Tudor line with children that came from both the York and Lancastrian lines.

Nasim Tadghighi, in her wonderful article 31 May 1533 – Anne Boleyn’s Coronation Procession, explains also that “The name Anne was equated with ‘grace’ promoting the idea that through Anne’s marriage to the monarch and the bearing of issue, the realm would receive God’s favour, as St Anne was favoured by being the mother of the Holy Virgin.”

Happy St Anne’s Day to all Annes, Annas and Anas!

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4 thoughts on “Happy St Anne’s Day!”
  1. It was a symbolic gesture the tree stump the barren Tudor dynasty and Anne representing fertility with the blossoming of the red and white roses, the roses that symbolised the royal houses of York and Lancaster, and the union of the Yorkist queen with the first Tudor king that brought the warring years to an end, yes Anne could well have been named after Saint Anne and if so we have her birth date, it’s a pity we probably will never know, there were a lot of Annes in her family so it was a popular name also, her earliest paternal female ancestor was Lady Anne Hoo, Eric Ives notes also that the falcon is no longer a royal bird, as he states rather dolefully in his book, the falcon is bareheaded as was Anne the moment she knelt on the scaffold on tower green, happy St Annes day to all Annes young and old ! And I hope your getting on ok with your eyes Claire.

  2. Happy Saint Anne Day. She could have been born on this day as one of the traditional ways to name a child was after the Saint of the Day or a family member or the Queen or King. Anne is so much associated in the late 1520s and up to her death in 1536 that we forget that she was born into a traditional Catholic Medieval family. Mary, her older sister would have been called for the Virgin Mary and the Mother of Jesus and her parents are named for Elizabeth both the Queen at the time and the cousin of the Mother of Jesus and Saint Thomas an Apostle or possibly after Saint Thomas a Beckett. George of course was named for another English Saint who was a Greco Roman soldier/martyr. Anne’s name follows a family pattern. She also had aunts called Anne of course, but maybe we have a clue to her birth at last.

    I love the coronation pageant of Saint Anne and her falcon badge but Anne wasn’t fertile sadly, for she lost two babies and Henry saw that as a sign all was not well. Anne was not young when she became Queen so it is possible that even had her unborn son lived, this may have been her last pregnancy. Henry certainly thought so and blamed Anne for something which could not possibly be her fault. Had she known that the falcon crowned was female, in her daughter Elizabeth her happiness at her coronation would have been complete.

    Happy Celebrations of Santa Ana.

    1. Yes Anne unfortunatly did not have time on her side, the whole parapanalia of the divorce was so long drawn out, that as the years passed so did her fertility, as she later lamented after another hurdle was placed in her way, ‘ I have been waiting long and in which time may have been married and had children which is the greatest consolation in this world, but alas farewell to my time and youth bent to no purpose at all’ .. No wonder it has been suggested that stress may have played a part in her inability to carry to full term, with Elizabeth she was ecstatically happy, she was queen and had had a wonderful coronation she was secure in Henrys love, but her second child she miscarried and from then on it was downhill all the way, unreasonable though it looks to us the usefulness of a queen lay in her ability to bear children, with Henry V111 and Anne Boleyn they were both desperate to have a son so much the stress would have affected Anne, there was Henry harping on about his prince who the quacks and charlatans all prophesied would be a boy, and then a girl ! Anne knew that her position as queen was weaker than had she given birth to a son, for why should his elder daughter Mary be overlooked for her baby sister? Until she had a son her position and that of her daughters was not secure, Henrys philandering did not help and soon King and queen were engaged in bitter rows, is it any wonder Anne miscarried when we consider the extreme anxiety she was under, there could have been something more sinister going on of course but I think it’s highly likely that Annes own agitated state of mind played more than a contributory factor towards her infants deaths, we have to take into account her very nature which was not calm, she is said to have had a particularly bad temper which even Henry himself feared, she had told him she would give him sons therefore she must deliver, her position as mistress was strong, once she became married she lost a lot of that power and became or was expected to become another servile queen, this ill matched couple had a lot of passion between them but sadly their relationship was doomed to failure, it was little Elizabeth who was to suffer from the fall out as she lost her mother, her first role model, she lost her status as princess and was neglected by her father, starved of both parents love she possibly suffered from a physchological trauma which left an indelible mark on her, knowing her own father had ordered her mothers death must have made her mistrustful of men and as some have suggested, made her fear the marital state as it reminded her how her fathers love for her mother had turned to bitter hatred, the second blow came with the execution of Catherine Howard, her own kinswoman of whom she was said to have been quite fond and as Robert Dudley later recalled on hearing of her death, Elizabeth had told him she would never marry, Mary herself was traumatised by her mothers treatment it was only Edward the adored longed for prince and heir who grew up untouched by his fathers marital history.

  3. I find it ironic how there were all these prophesies and prediction about Anne’s first pregnancy being a boy when actually it was a girl, they still cam true because Elizabeth carried on the legacy and brought England into the golden age. I think that in the end Anne won because it was her daughter who is remembered.

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