Full question: What sort of accent did Anne Boleyn have? I know she was born in England but at what age was she sent to France?
There don't seem to be any descriptions of the way Anne spoke, only of her appearance, but she may well have spoken with a slight French accent.
If you believe that she was born around 1501 then Anne was around 12 when she was sent to the court of the Archduchess Maragret of Austria, Regent of the Netherlands who was fluent in French and who had spent much of her childhood in the French court. Anne then spent the years 1514-1521 at the French court.
Anne spent the first 12 years of her life in England, in Kent, surrounded by English speakers and English accents, so her English accent would have been well established, but speaking French from the ages of 12-20 may well have left their mark and given her a slight French accent.
If you believe Retha Warnicke's birthdate for Anne being 1507 then Anne was only 6 when she left England and would surely have picked up a French accent.
Anne was known for her French style and French ways so may well have spoken with a French accent, this woud indeed have made her different and made her stand out from the other women at court.
18 thoughts on “What sort of accent did Anne Boleyn have?”
Interesting how in “Anne of the Thousand Days,” they used a French-Canadian actress to play the French-educated Anne.
Yes, it is interesting, their research obviously showed them that Anne may have had a French accent. Interesting.
I would think that Anne had come back from France with a touch of a French accent. Her vocabulary at age 12 would not compare with the vocabulary of a 20 year old. Therefore, I feel that as her vocabulary increased, she would speak more with a French flair.
French was still the most commonly spoken tongue at court during this time as well. Speaking perfect french was a sign of a well bred, and properly educated, nobleperson.
In other works speaking of other persons, it has been winkled out that many English nobles of the time spoke with a French accent…strange as that sounds.
It would have been interesting to know just how Anne’s voice was. Did she speak fast or slowly with clarity? Was her voice high pitched or soft, maybe even a bit mysterious. I read somewhere, where long lost in research, that King Henry VIII was reported as having a somewhat high pitched voice which just does not fit the build of the man. Have you ever read or come across anything about Henry’s voice Claire? I am enjoying the question and answer section of your site. Most interesting and good questions were asked. I would like to introduce myself to all your friends as that person in the Pacific Northwest city of Seattle, Washington who is finding the “Anne Boleyn Files” most interesting and I sincerely hope my comments are intelligent enough to match those of your friends Claire.
Most noble ‘English’ families had been French anyway, ever since 1066!
Plantagenet and Paliament are not English words.
Anne still kept her English wording but her accent was Enlgish witrh a French Tinge to it. She could speak Latin, French and other languages but she did so with the English French tinges accent.
Savarnah,I agree English with a tinge of french. THX Baroness
An apparently unbiased gentleman at Henry’s court was reported as saying that everything about Anne Boleyn suggested she was not an English woman, but a French woman ‘full-born’. This tends to suggest that her accent would also have been French. It is said that if a child has left his /her homeland by the age of 7, they do not retain their original accent but will instead take on their new one – for life. I knew a Russian boy and his sister who had moved to the UK with their family at a young age (he was 9, she was 6). At 28 he still sounded as Russian as they come, while she just sounded like all my English friends.
What an interesting question! Mary Stuart (Mary, Queen of Scots) was sent to the French court at the age of 5 and was sometimes described as having a french accent. If Anne went to France aged 6, she may well have returned with sounding french, which may have made her seem more exotic to the English.
The mother of Mary Queen of Scots was Marie de Guise. It is very likely that the first language Mary heard was French, and she will have been brought up speaking it.
henry’s love letters to Anne were in french
We also have to remember that at this time the accent that modern day thinks of as English was not around. New historical findings have shown that the accent did not develop till around the time of the American Revolutionary War. At the time the accent in London would probably have been closer to North West America.
but you have to consider that being able to speak a language fluently (and read and write it) doesn’t mean that you have an accent of that same language. And Anne would not have been able to go abroad at such a young age as 6 because the minimum age in Margaret of Austria’s court for a lady in waiting was 12
-Alison Weir is my source
Hi Claire, I’m just wondering if you know anything about the pitch of Henry’s voice; bass, tenor, baritone? I’d be really interested if you knew anything.
I would say that she had an accent. She was aloof…imperious…and seems to have considered herself a cut above the rest. It is a trait of the English to bring such people down a peg or two. We still do it to people who get above themselves and start believing their own s**t. Winston Churchill Margaret Thatcher Tony Blair… She turned people off her….and would have used an accent to emphasise her point. Very human.
Don’t know if this helps but my mom moved to the US from France when she was 6 years old and she learned English here. She speaks French with a perfect French accent and English with a perfect American accent, in other words she sounds native in both. However she spoke French at home and Anne most likely wouldn’t have been speaking or hearing much English at French court so I would assume she lost a bit of her native accent.
Hi everyone! I am a Czech adult woman. Until my 36 years age, I knew only my own language, German language I forgot a long time ago and we had Russian at school. I started to learn French when I was 34 years old as I like that language. I did not learn French a very long time, about 6 months as my tutor moved away. However, I went to work to England two years later as an absolute non-English speaking person. I learnt everything I need to know to communicate in English at work day by day. About ten strange people told me during my stay in England – Oh! You are French, don´t you!? When it happened for the first time, it was only wondering, of course, I denied that I am French. But when it happened more and more times, it was a reason to think why comleptely unknown people are recognising a French accent in my voice? (at the bus station, in the pub, apotheke…). The only reason is that I learnt not very long time ago French, but not for a very long time. And still it left its marks on my English! So, I suppose that the French stay MUST left its marks on Ann Boleyn English voice too. I worked with French riders at the yard: they spoke English but it was so very much recognisable that they are French. I think that the people here who do mean that Ann had a French accent are most near her voice expression.