Maundy Thursday – Anne Boleyn, King Charles III and the Royal Maundy

Modern Royal Maundy purses
Royal Maundy purses
Today is Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday. On this day, Christians remember the Last Supper, where Jesus Christ enjoyed his final meal with his disciples, and where he washed their feet.

On Maundy Thursday, Christ’s act of washing his disciples’ feet was re-enacted from at least 13th century by the pope, who would wash the feet of twelve of his subdeacons, and it is something that is still carried out today. Today, Pope Francis will celebrate Maundy Thursday Mass at Casal del Marmo, a juvenile prison, where he will also wash the feet of inmates.

It is also something that is remembered by today’s royal family in the UK. King Charles III and Queen Camilla will be attending the Maundy Thursday service at York Minster today and then the king will present 74 men and 74 women with Maundy Money – two purses, one red and one white, containing special silver Maundy coins (74 of them) and special commemorative coins. 74 is, of course, the king’s age. There is no foot-washing, however.

The Royal Maundy dates back to the reign of King Edward II, when the king would wash the feet of poor people and give alms known as Maundy Money. It was something that the Tudor monarchs and their consorts did too, and on Maundy Thursday 1536, 13th April, Anne Boleyn took part in her very last Maundy Thursday service, where she gave Maundy money and washed the feet of poor people.

Records show that the queen gave “31 l. 3s. 9 ½d.” in Maundy money that year, and William Latymer, Anne Boleyn’s chaplain, and martyrologist John Foxe both wrote of how the amount in the royal Maundy purses distributed to the poor increased significantly when Anne Boleyn was queen. Anne was passionate about poor relief, feeling that it was her responsibility to do something for social welfare, both as a queen and a Christian. William Latymer wrote of how one Maundy Thursday, Anne, after washing and kissing the feet of poor women, “commanded to be put privily [privately] into every poor woman’s purse one george noble, the which was vi.s viii d. [6 shillings and 8 pence], over and besides the alms that wonted to be given.”

You can read more about Anne Boleyn’s passion for poor relief and charity in my article Anne Boleyn and Charity.

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One thought on “Maundy Thursday – Anne Boleyn, King Charles III and the Royal Maundy”
  1. Very old custom but then customs generally are, at York Minster today the king was met by protesters I don’t see what their problem is, the banners they were holding read ‘not my king’, but whether they like or not, Charles is their king and Camilla’s their queen, these few protestors are basically those with nothing else much to do, Charles is slimming down the monarchy which is a good step because he knows the people are fed up with the hangers on, those minor royals who do little towards their own upkeep, the disgraced Duke of York and his daft ex won’t be seen on the balcony at Buck house and will play no part in the coronation, neither will the whinging second son and his wife who appears to have a massive chip on her shoulder, they still have not said if they will be coming to the coronation but know they won’t be on the balcony, I’m not a royalist but enjoyed the jubilee celebrations last year and am looking forward to Charles coronation, street parties and the pomp that goes with it, I hope the weather is fine because it’s the sun after all, that makes the event enjoyable for people, who would have thought in those far of days of the kings first marriage that Camilla would be the one standing beside him at the abbey when he is crowned, but that is life.

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