July 26 – St Anne and Queen Anne Boleyn

Posted By on July 26, 2022

26th July is the Feast Day of St Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary and grandmother of Jesus Christ.

If you’re called Anne or Anna then a very Happy St Anne’s Day to you!

Anne Boleyn used her namesake St Anne as a theme in the pageantry for her coronation in 1533, and you can find out more about the pageant and why Anne Boleyn would use this saint in this video and the transcript below.

Click here to read Nasim’s article on Anne Boleyn’s coronation procession.

Transcript:

Today, 26th July, is the feast day of St Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary and grandmother of Jesus Christ. Happy St Anne to any Annes or Annas out there!

We don’t know the birthdate of Queen Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII and mother of Queen Elizabeth I, but I often wonder whether Anne was born on St Anne’s Day, although she may simply have been named after her aunt Anne who could have stood as her godmother. We just don’t know.

But St Anne was very important to Anne Boleyn.

At Anne Boleyn’s coronation procession on 31st May 1533, a tableau by John Leland and Nicholas Udall at Leadenhall in Gracechurch Street took St Anne as its theme. This two part pageant or tableau featured Anne Boleyn’s falcon badge. A castle was depicted with a green, and a tree stump, and on a hill below the tree stump, sat St Anne and her descendants – her daughters, the Blessed Virgin, Mary Salome and Mary Cleopas; and their families. 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 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.

This tableau and the poetry were emphasising England’s hope for Anne and the child she was carrying, that Anne, as historian Eric Ives explains, “would go on to rival the maternal success of her patron saint” and namesake. Of course, as Ives also points out, St Anne only produced daughters!

Nasim Tadghighi, in an article she wrote on the coronation procession for the Anne Boleyn Files, also explains, “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.”

There were such high hopes for England’s new queen, but sadly she wouldn’t be given much of a chance to give Henry VIII children, being executed on false charges of treason less than three years after her coronation. She did, however, produce Queen Elizabeth I, a queen who is regarded as one of England’s greatest monarchs.

1 thought on “July 26 – St Anne and Queen Anne Boleyn”

  1. Christine says:

    It could be that Anne was named after St Anne or was born on her feast day, hence the reason she featured in her coronation, if the latter is correct then we have this enigmatic queens date of birth, though sadly the year is still unknown to us, it is a source of frustration that we know so much about her yet nothing of when she came into this world, Anne is very much an English name yet Hebrew in origin and means graceful and merciful and ‘God has favoured me’, the lavish eulogy presented to Anne at her coronation, symbolising the heirs she would give to England, with the falcon atop the barren tree stump bursting with the red and white roses representing the Houses of York and Lancaster, the kings ancestors is all the more sad because this queen was most unfortunate in that she only had a daughter who survived, there was at least two miscarriages we know of but the first one is shrouded in mystery, one historian believes there could have been more, that she was fertile there is no doubt, she became pregnant as soon as she began sleeping with the king, but the huge responsibility to produce a male heir could have brought on stress which as we know now, can have fatal consequences for the pregnant mother, when first pregnant with Elizabeth she was secure in the kings love, but a miscarriage naturally made him disappointed in her and later suspicious, the ‘goodly belly’ she had confirmed by one written source then disappeared, we hear no more, there could have been another one, then her last one we hear was in January in the year 1536, the year she died, a row of miscarriages would have made Henry V111 determined that she would never be able to give him a son, it explains the hasty trial and condemnation that followed, though does not excuse the slaughter of six innocent people, the falcon Anne’s own personal emblem is also roughly carved in the wall of the Beauchamp tower, it is not known who was responsible but I believe it could have been by George Boleyn as a silent tribute to her, though it could have been by any of her so called lovers, the falcon is also shown on Thomas Boleyn’s brass plate on his tomb in the church at Hever, I love the ballad that Nicholas Udall also wrote and which was sung at her coronation, :
    ‘Of body Small’,
    Of power regal,
    She is, and sharp of sight,
    Of courage halt,
    No manner fault,
    Is in this falcon white,
    Such beautiful words and how tragic that such hope was invested in Anne Boleyn, we can understand more of the mental torment she must have endured in her quest to give her king a son and keep his love, the lavish celebrations in her honour have a bittersweet poignancy because fate ordained a very real failure for this most remarkable of women.

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