#WednesdayFact – Anne Boleyn wasn’t fond of monkeys as pets

A monkey in a Tudor portraitDid you know that Anne Boleyn wasn’t fond of monkeys?

Monkeys were popular pets in royal circles. Henry VIII was given a marmoset by William Kendal in 1534, Catherine of Aragon had a pet monkey and is pictured with it in a miniature painted by Lucas Horenbout in around 1525/1526, a Holbein painting of Prince Edward, the future Edward VI, from around 1541-2 depicts him holding a pet monkey, and Princess Margaret Tudor is depicted with a monkey in the portrait by Daniel Mytens.

However, Anne Boleyn really didn’t like monkeys. When Honor, Lady Lisle, sent a marmoset as a gift to Anne in 1535, John Husee reported back to Lady Lisle:

“And as touching your monkey, of a truth, madam, the Queen loveth no such beasts not can scant abide the sight of them.”

However, Anne loved her little dog, Purkoy. The dog originally belonged to Lady Lisle, who had given him as a New Year’s gift to Sir Francis Bryan in January 1534 to gain Bryan’s favour. However, Bryan passed the dog on to his cousin the queen, when she took a liking to him, reporting to Lord Lisle that Purkoy was “so well liked by the Queen that it remained not above an hour in my hands but that her Grace took it from me.”

Notes and Sources

  • ed. St. Clare Byrne, Muriel (1981) The Lisle Letters, Volume 2, University of Chicago Press, pp.531-532, letter 421, John Husee to Lady Lisle, 21 June 1535.
  • Ibid., p.30, letter 114, Sir Francis Bryan to Lord Lisle.

Related Post