Is there any truth in the account of a live birth of a son Henry Duke of Cornwall in November 1534 to Anne Boleyn and that he lived for a few hours? I have read this on a few sites, but I was not aware that she had a son who was born alive? I thought all her babies were stillborn.

I have been researching the primary sources on Anne Boleyn for three years now and have never found mention of the birth of a live son. Eric Ives, by far the best historian on Anne, makes no mention of it and I have only found evidence for three pregnancies: Elizabeth, one in 1534 which must have ended in miscarriage as there is no record of Anne going into confinement, and the miscarriage of 1536. See http://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/4132/the-pregnancies-of-anne-boleyn-and-catherine-of-aragon/ for more on Anne's pregnancies.
Do these sites give any references to support this theory?

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4 thoughts on “Is there any truth in the account of a live birth of a son Henry Duke of Cornwall in November 1534 to Anne Boleyn and that he lived for a few hours? I have read this on a few sites, but I was not aware that she had a son who was born alive? I thought all her babies were stillborn.”

  1. Lisa says:

    Daryl Lundy’s site “The Peerage” (www.thepeerage.com) lists Anne’s 2nd child born and died circa Aug 1534 as Henry Tudor, Duke of Cornwall. The source he gives is Alison Weir’s “Britain’s Royal Family: A Complete Genealogy.” I don’t consider Weir on her own a solid source, so…

    Does anyone have this book and can try to find what Weir’s source was for this?

    1. Claire says:

      I just checked Weir’s “Britain’s Royal Family” and she just says “Stillborn child? (sex unknown). It was born in August/September 1534; this was nearly a full-term pregnancy, but details of the birth were kept secret” so I’m not sure how she can be listed as a source when she has put a “?” and doesn’t give a name or sex. Odd! She also doesn’t cite any references.

      1. Lisa says:

        Lundy must have listed Weir as a source for the date of August 1534. Most often I see it listed as November. But on that entry on The Peerage there is no other source listed for this child’s details except Weir. He often uses Burke’s Peerage as a source, which could explain the “Duke of Cornwall” detail, except he doesn’t list Burke’s as a source for this nor give the birth date from Burke’s. Hmmm. “Curiouser and curiouser” said Alice…

        I know you covered the written evidence of the 1534 pregnancy in another thread, but the difference between August and November would make for an interesting discussion as well. Why these 2 dates given so many places?

        Chapuys wrote in January that Anne was pregnant, which is a bit early to know if she gave birth in November – almost 10 months after the announcement! Of course, the January report could have been mistaken and Anne could have become pregnant later in the year but no source even implies that. In April she was reported to have “a goodly belly.” Then in July Anne could not cross the Channel because she was “so far gone with child.” That would seem to imply August as the more likely birth date.

        I am guessing that Weir is basing that “nearly a full term pregnancy” in Aug/Sept on the January letter.

        Then Chapuys wrote on 27 September that Henry “began to doubt whether his lady was enceinte or not…” If Anne had given birth – stillborn or not – in August, was this being kept from Chapuys and/or general knowledge?

        And yet, November is the date I see most often recorded, which I might attribute to dissemination of bad info on the net except for that Burke’s listing. Where did Burke get it I wonder?

        Of course, all this is assuming that this WAS a true pregnancy and not a phantom one. It’s irritating that to our knowledge (despite Burke’s), there was no announcement of either miscarriage or birth. With this being such a public pregnancy (heck, we have more than one source and there were probably more that have been lost), it’s odd to think that the Courts – domestic and foreign – would just let this issue die off without questioning what happened. But all we have is that odd comment of Chapuys’. Who told Chapuys that the reason for Henry’s renewed attentions to his “beautiful damsel” were because he suspected Anne was not pregnant after all?

        Sometimes I just want to dig up Cromwell, reanimate him, and hook him up to a polygraph! As Warnicke put it, there’s too much in Chapuys’ reports where we don’t know what was fact, what was rumor he reported as fact, and what was bull that Cromwell or Henry manipulatively fed to Chapuys to report as fact.

        Gack. My head hurts.

  2. Lisa says:

    I just found another listing saying that Anne “gave him a son who died shortly after his birth (Henry, Duke of Cornwall, Nov 1534)” in “Princes and Princely Culture, 1450-1650 (Brill’s Studies in Intellectual History)” by Arie Johan Vanderjagt, Martin Gosman and Alasdair A. Macdonald (published Jan 2005). No idea what sources were used for this book.

    More interestingly, I found a listing for “A son, Duke of Cornwall, b and d Nov 1534” in Burke’s Peerage 1880 edition. No first name, however. One would think the child lived, however briefly, to be listed by Burke’s with a title.

    Hmmm….

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