On this day in Tudor history, 21st October 1532, King Henry VIII left Anne Boleyn behind in Calais while he travelled to Boulogne.

Henry VIII and his sweetheart, Anne Boleyn, Marquess of Pembroke, had travelled to Calais to meet with the French king, Francis I, to obtain his support for their union. On this day in 1532, Henry left Anne in Calais while he went to spend a few days at the French court with Francis I.

The kings were beautifully attired for their meeting and there was a bit of a bromance, with Henry calling Francis his “beloved brother” and Francis instructing his sons to be “loving always” to Henry. However, Anne Boleyn was disappointed with the situation.

Find out more in the video or transcript below…


On this day in Tudor history, Monday 21st October 1532, according to Edward Hall’s Chronicle and Wynkyn de Worde’s “The Manner of the triumph of Calais and Boulogne”, Henry VIII left Anne Boleyn behind in Calais, an English territory at the time, to spend four days with Francis I, King of France, “his beloved brother”, at the French court in Boulogne.

Hall describes how Henry was “accompanied with the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, and with the Marquesses of Dorset and Exeter, the Earls of Arundel, Oxford, Surrey, Essex, Derby, Rutland, Huntingdon, and Sussex, and diverse Viscounts, Barons, Knights of the Garter, and Gentlemen, freshly apparelled, and richly trimmed”.

Wynkyn de Worde adds that there were seven score men accompanying the King, all dressed in velvet coats.

The two kings met at Sandingfield, as arranged. Hall describes how Henry VIII was wearing a “coat of great richs, in braids of gold laid loose on Russet Velvet, and set with trefoils, full of pearl and stone”, while Francis I wore “a coat of crimson velvet, all to cut, lined with slender cloth of gold plucked out through the cuts.” The Kings embraced, and, after drinking each other’s health, they processed on to Boulogne.

When the Kings had got within a mile of Boulogne, they were met by Francis I’s three sons (the Dauphin, the Duke of Orléans and the Duke of Angoulême), along with the Admiral of France and three cardinals (Wynkyn de Worde says four). Francis I said to his sons, “My children, I am your father, but to this Prince here you are as much bound, as to me your natural father, for he redeemed me and you from captivity: wherefore on my blessing I charge you to be to him loving always.” Henry VIII then embraced the three princes.

As the party arrived at Calais, there was “a great shot of Artillery” which, apparently, could be heard twenty miles away.

When Henry and Anne’s trip to Calais had first been planned, Anne had wanted to attend the meeting at the French court in Boulogne as Henry’s consort. She had hoped that she would be treated as Queen and that she would at least meet Francis’s sister, Marguerite of Angoulême, if Francis’ wife, Eleanor, who was a niece of Catherine of Aragon, would not attend. However, Francis I did not want his sister to be compromised in any way by meeting a woman who was seen as the King of England’s mistress, so he suggested the attendance of the Duchess of Vendôme, a woman of “regrettable reputation and light morals who therefore had no dignity left to preserve.” When Anne heard this news, she made the decision to stay behind in Calais and then meet with Francis I when he travelled back with Henry on 25th October.

Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn had set sail for Calais on 11th October 1532. The purpose of their trip was to meet with the French king to gain his support for their relationship and their quest for the annulment of Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Francis was sympathetic to their plight and offered to give Henry French protection against Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor and Catherine of Aragon’s nephew, should he cause trouble, and he also promised to intercede with the Pope on their behalf.

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