Did Anne Boleyn have dark brown, light brown, or black hair?

Tough question and the simple answer is that we don't know for sure. All the portraits we have of Anne are supposedly copies of earlier portraits yet we have the National Portrait Gallery portrait showing her with chestnut coloured hair and light brown/hazel eyes and the Hever Castle portrait (the one with the rose) depicting her with very dark eyes and hair.

The poet Thomas Wyatt gave her the poetic name "Brunet" (Sir Thomas Wyatt, "Collected Poems") and Nicholas Sander (“The Rise and Growth of the Anglican Schism”) described her as having "black hair".

I personally think she looked like the Hever Castle rose portrait - dark brown hair and dark brown eyes, very different to the classic English Rose.


2 thoughts on “Did Anne Boleyn have dark brown, light brown, or black hair?”

  1. Joy says:

    Anne Boleyn had black eyes, which her daughter Elizabeth inherited.

  2. Molly Housego says:

    As there is no human possibility of having ‘black’ irises to the eyes, perhaps they were simply dark brown?

    As for her hair, doubtless in the winter it would have appeared darker, but in the summer, probably more auburn through the effects of the sun. There was a fashionable craze in the C16th in Europe for lightening one’s hair in the sun (in private, of course) and perhaps Anne would have been no different. Certainly wearing French hoods leaves ladies’ hair more open to the ravages of sunlight than does the English Gable headdress.

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