The Fall of Anne Boleyn: A Countdown
Guest article by Claire Ridgway
I am delighted to welcome author Claire Ridgway to the Lady Jane Grey Reference Guide Blog as part of her virtual book tour.
Claire’s second book, ‘Fall of Anne Boleyn: A Countdown’ gives a day by day account of the events of April and May 1536.
Claire has very kindly written a guest blog post on the 479th anniversary of Anne Boleyn's Coronation.
Also, Claire has donated a prize of an Anne Boleyn scarf in a light mauve.
To be in with a chance of winning all you have to do is comment on Claire's
article by the end of Sunday 3rd June (UK time).
To comment click on the Speak link below.
The winner will be announced on Monday 4th June.
Anne Boleyn's Coronation
The coronation of Anne Boleyn in 1533 was a huge four day affair and was just like the coronation of a monarch, rather than a queen consort. It was a PR exercise; a statement by Henry VIII that Anne Boleyn was his rightful wife and queen, whatever people thought of her or the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Eric Ives writes that the Milanese ambassador estimated that the cost of Anne's coronation to the City of London was £46,000, or 200,000 ducats, and that Henry VIII spent half that again. We don't know how accurate that figure is, but there's no denying that it was a sumptuous and a lavish occasion.
The pamphlet, “The noble tryumphaunt coronacyon of Quene Anne, wyfe unto the most noble kynge Henry VIII”, printed by Wynkyn de Worde in 1533, is a wonderful record of the four days of pageantry and can be read online at Internet Archive – The noble tryumphaunt coronacyon of Quene Anne, wyfe unto the most noble kynge Henry VIII. It is well worth a read if you are willing to figure out the old English. Edward Hall's chronicle also gives details of the pageantry.
1st June Coronation Ceremony
1st June 1533, Whitsun, was the day of Anne Boleyn's coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey. The chronicler Edward Hall records that the Mayor, clad in scarlet and wearing his chain of office, took a barge at 7am to Westminster. He was accompanied by the alderman, sheriffs and the council of the City of London. At Westminster, they waited for the Queen, who arrived between 8 o'clock and 9 o'clock, and stood under the cloth of state as the royal court and peers, dressed in their parliament robes, gathered. A railed blue “ray cloth” was spread from the high dais of the King's bench in the hall all the way to the high altar of the abbey, and the officers of arms helped organise those gathered into a procession. Hall records the order as:
- Alderman of the City
- Knights of the Bath
- Barons and viscounts
- Earls, marquesses and dukes
- Lord Chancellor
- Staff of the Chapel Royal and monks
- Abbots and bishops
- Sergeants and officers of arms
- The Mayor of London
- Marquess of Dorset, bearing the sceptre of gold
- Earl of Arundel, bearing the rod of ivory topped with a dove
- Earl of Oxford, High Chamberlain of England, carrying the crown of St Edward
- Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk and High Steward of England for the day
- William Howard, carrying the rod of the Marshal of England
The Garter Knights
Following this procession came the woman of the day, Queen Anne Boleyn. Anne was wearing a surcoat and robe of purple velvet, trimmed with ermine, and the coif and circlet she had worn for the procession the previous day. Her train was carried by the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk and she walked barefoot under a canopy of cloth of gold carried by the barons of the Cinque Ports. Anne made her way to the “great chair”, the chair of St Edward, where she rested for a while before descending to the high altar. There, Anne prostrated herself while Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, prayed over her. When she got up, he anointed her and then she was able to rest in St Edward's chair once again while orations were said. Cranmer crowned Anne with the crown of St Edward, a crown usually reserved for crowning the reigning monarch, and placed the sceptre in her right hand and the rod in her left. The Te Deum was sung and Cranmer helped Anne exchange the heavy crown for a custom-made lighter version.
Mass was celebrated and Anne took the sacrament before visiting St Edward's shrine and giving the traditional offering. She then rested for a few moments while everybody formed into a line to process back to Westminster Hall for the coronation banquet. Anne walked back, her right hand “sustained” by her father, the Earl of Wiltshire, and her left hand by Lord Talbot, acting as a deputy for his father, the Earl of Shrewsbury. Trumpets played as they processed to the hall. It was time for the celebratory banquet.
At the banquet, Anne sat on the King's marble chair set under a cloth of state. She sat next to Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, and was attended by the Dowager Countess of Oxford and the Countess of Worcester, who stood beside her, and two gentlewomen at her feet. The Earl of Oxford was high chamberlain, the Earl of Essex was the carver, the Earl of Sussex the sewer, the Earl of Derby the cupbearer, the Earl of Arundel the chief butler and Thomas Wyatt the chief ewer, on behalf of his father. Between Anne and the Archbishop stood the Earl of Oxford, with his white staff of office. When everyone was seated the Duke of Suffolk and William Howard entered the hall on horseback to announce the first course, which was being carried by the knights of the Bath. Suffolk is described by Hall as wearing a jacket and doublet “set with orient perle” and a gown of embroidered crimson velvet, sitting on a horse draped with crimson velvet, embroidered with real gold letters, which reached the ground. “Trumpets and hautbois sounded at each course, and heralds cried "largesse."”Henry VIII did not join the banquet but watched proceedings, accompanied by the ambassador of France and Venice, from a special “little closet”.
The banquet was followed by wafers and hippocras, then the Queen washed and enjoyed “a voyde of spice and comfettes”, after over 80 dishes! After that, the Mayor passed her a gold cup, from which she drank, before giving it back to him. Anne then retired to her chambers where she had to go through the formalities of thanking everyone before she could rest. At 6pm it was finally over, it had been a long and exhausting day for her.
The coronation celebrations were not actually at an end. The four days of processions and pageantry were followed by jousts and further banqueting! What a celebration!
Notes and Sources
- “The noble tryumphaunt coronacyon of Quene Anne, wyfe unto the most noble kynge Henry VIII”, printed by Wynkyn de Worde, 1533
- Hall's Chronicle, Edward Hall, collated editions of 1548 and 1550
- LP vi. 583, 584 and 585
- The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, Eric Ives, p178-183
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