On this day in 1553 – Queen Mary I began her coronation procession from the Tower of London to Whitehall

After years of not knowing what her future held at 3pm on 30th September 1553 Queen Mary I began her coronation procession from the Tower of London and made her way to Whitehall where she would stay overnight before being proclaimed Queen the next day. Mary and the procession left the Tower to the bells of churches ringing and gun fire.

The procession consisted of the Queen’s messengers, trumpeters, heralds, bannerets, esquires of the body, Knights of the Bath which included 15 that had been newly created that morning, the clergy, merchants, soldiers, knights, foreign ambassadors and the council. Following all of these came Mary’s retinue that included the Earl of Sussex who was acting as Mary’s Chief Server, Stephen Gardiner and William Paulet carrying the seal and mace, the Lord Mayor of London carrying the gold sceptre, the Sergeant at Arms and the Earl of Arundel carrying the Queen’s sword there was also ‘two ancient knights with old-fashioned hats, powdered on their heads, disguised’ who represented the Dukes of Normandy and Guienne.

Behind all of these came the new Queen in an open litter pulled by six horses in white trappings. It was reported that she was ‘richly apparelled with mantle and kirtle of cloth of gold’ with a gold tinsel cloth and jewelled crown on her head. Mary was escorted by the mother of Edward Courtenay and the wives of the Duke of Norfolk, Earl of Arundel and Sir William Paulet all on horseback. Behind them was a carriage carrying Mary’s younger sister, Princess Elizabeth and their former step mother, Anne of Cleves.

The procession would travel a mile and a half across London and there was entertainment at every turn including; a civic pageantry at Temple Bar, verses sung in praise of the new queen at Cornhill and Cheap, Queen Mary was address at St Paul’s by the recorder of London and was presented with a purse containing 1000 marks of gold by the chamberlain and an oration in Latin and English was delivered by playwright John Heywood at the school in St Paul’s Churchyard and finally minstrels played at Ludgate.

Mary reached Whitegate where she would prepare for her coronation the following day at Westminster Abbey.

Mary IQueen Mary I

On this day in 1564 – Queen Elizabeth I created Robert Dudley the Earl of Leicester

On 29th September 1564 Queen Elizabeth I created Robert Dudley the Earl of Leicester. It was a move that Elizabeth had been planning for a few months in an attempt to make Dudley a more attractable prospect to Mary Queen of Scots. The marriage proposal between the two had been an idea of Elizabeth’s for some time.

Queen Elizabeth I first proposed the match to the Scottish Ambassador, William Maitland of Lethington who originally laughed at the match he also asked why Elizabeth did not marry Dudley herself and that when she died she could leave her husband and the throne to Mary Queen of Scots.

Sir William Cecil, chief advisor to Elizabeth supported the match as it would not only form an alliance with Scotland but it would also take Dudley away from Elizabeth and the court. Cecil began communicating with Maitland full of praise and support for the match with Dudley however; Maitland did not inform Mary of the proposal from England for the simple fact that Dudley was not a peer.

Thomas Randolph, the English ambassador to Scotland was urged to keep pushing the prospect of marriage with Dudley to Mary despite the fact that neither Dudley nor Mary wanted the marriage to go ahead. Elizabeth had no intentions for the marriage to go ahead, it was purely political as it kept Mary occupied with negotiations and it stopped the gossip within Elizabeth’s own court regarding her relationship with Dudley.

On 29th September 1564 despite the fact that the marriage negotiations between Dudley and Mary were failing Elizabeth created Dudley the Earl of Leicester. The Earldom had been previously held by the likes of John of Gaunt and Henry Bolingbroke (later King Henry IV) and was a prestigious title. It was reported that as Elizabeth placed the chain of earldom around his neck she placed her hand on his neck with a little stroke.

Robert DudleyRobert Dudley, Earl of Leicester

On this day in 1560 – Francis Talbot, 5th Earl of Shrewsbury died

Francis Talbot was born in 1500 to George Talbot, 4th Earl of Shrewsbury and his wife Anne Hastings. Francis’ father, George, fought alongside King Henry VII during the uprising of Lambert Simnel and the Battle of Stoke and was godfather to Henry’s eldest daughter, Princess Margaret. In 1538 Francis inherited his father’s title to become 5th Earl of Shrewsbury.

Francis followed his father’s footsteps and was in favour with King Henry VIII during his reign, despite being a staunch Roman Catholic. Francis even received lands, including parts of Worksop Priory and Beauchief Abbey, from the dissolution of the monasteries.

On 30th November 1523 Francis married Mary Dacre, daughter of Thomas Dacre, 2nd Baron Dacre, the couple went on to have three children; George, 6th Earl of Talbot, Anne and Thomas. Mary died in 1538 and Francis went on to marry again to Grace Shakerley but they would not have any children.

Francis took little interest in politics however, in 1545 he was made a Knight of the Garter and Francis was also deemed a powerful figure in the north of England and was part of the troops that invaded Scotland in 1547 that ended in the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh.

During the reign of King Edward VI the Imperial Ambassador described Francis as ‘one of the most powerful men in the kingdom’ and when plots arose against the Lord Protector, the Duke of Somerset he attempted to recruit Francis to his side but instead Francis joined those that opposed his rule. In 1549 Francis replaced Robert Holgate, Bishop of Llandaff, as Lord President of the Council of the North.

When King Edward VI took to the throne Francis converted to the reformed religion but harboured sympathies to the Catholic faith. Francis, although not a politician he was a member of the King’s Council. Despite converting to Protestantism and not opposing the proclamation of Lady Jane Grey as Queen after the death of King Edward VI, it is likely that he would have worked to convince the Council to recognise Mary I as the rightful heir and was one of the first to openly support her claim. Due to his early support Mary rewarded him upon her ascension with a place on her Council.

Francis, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth was Lord Lieutenant of Yorkshire alongside his role as President of the Council of the North. In a letter from Francis to Sir William Cecil dated on 17th January 1559 from Ferry Bridge he stated that he was going to take some troops to Newcastle and whilst he was away he was appointing his Vice President, Sir Thomas Gargrave to do his job in his absence.

Francis Talbot died on 28th September 1560 in Sheffield Manor, Sheffield and was buried at St Peter’s in Sheffield.

Francis TalbotFrancis Talbot, 5th Earl of Shrewsbury

On this day in 1501 – Katherine of Aragon set sail from Spain for England

Katherine of Aragon left her life behind in Spain as she left the Alhambra Palace in Granada on 21st May 1501 for a new life in England. Katherine was heading to England to marry Prince Arthur Tudor, son and heir of King Henry VII whom she had been betrothed to since she was three years old.

Katherine and her party attempted to set sail from Coruna on the 17th August after saying a tearful goodbye to her parents who had travelled with her to Galicia. Storms in the Bay of Biscay caused the fleet to land at Laredo, Bilbao. King Henry VII heard of the failed attempt and sent Stephen Butt, one of his best naval captains, to guide the Spanish party across the Bay. The fleet regrouped and at 5pm on the 27th September a second attempt was made to carry the 15 year old Katherine to her new life 500 miles away.

Katherine landed at Plymouth on the 2nd October and brought with her a dowry of 200,000 that was to be split into two payments and in return Henry had agreed to settle a third of the Prince of Wales’ land so she would be provided for in the event of her new husband’s death.

Katherine and Arthur’s betrothal had many false starts although the marriage was first suggested when Katherine was just three years old and Henry wanted Katherine sent to England straight away to learn the ways of the English court. However, her parents were keen to keep her in Spain until the couple were at the age to be married. Various events in England saw a potential end to the alliance including the pretender Perkin Warbeck. Eventually the couple were formally betrothed in two ceremonies in England where the Spanish ambassador De Puebla acted as proxy for Katherine.

The couple were eventually married at St Paul’s on 14th November 1501.

Katherine of AragonThe young Katherine of Aragon

On this day in 1580 – Sir Francis Drake returned to England following his circumnavigation of the globe.

On 26th September 1580 Sir Francis Drake arrived in Plymouth following his circumnavigation of the world. Drake originally left Plymouth on 13th December 1577 with a fleet of five ships; the Elizabeth, the Pelican, the Marigold, the Swan and the Christopher.

The originally intention of the trip was to approach new nations and open trade links with them as well as discovering new shipping routes in order to weaken the Spanish influence in South America.

By June 1578 the fleet landed at Port San Julian (known in modern day as Argentina) whilst docked Thomas Doughty, an officer within the fleet stood trial and later executed for mutiny and sedition.

Whilst the fleet was at the Strait of Magellan, the Pelican was renamed the Golden Hinde in honour of the voyage’s patron, Sir Christopher Hatton, whose coat of arms featured a golden female deer, known as a hinde. The ships motto ‘Cassis Tutis Sima Virtus’ (Virtue is the safest helmet) was also taken from Hatton’s coat of arms. The Golden Hinde along with the Elizabeth and the Marigold then sailed through the Strait of Magellan and found themselves in the Pacific Ocean.

Golden HindeThe Golden Hinde

The fleet were hit by a series of storms which resulted in the loss of the Marigold, with all crew still aboard meanwhile the Elizabeth returned to England and the Golden Hinde was blown to the southern point of South America and an island that is known nowadays as Cape Horn.

Drake set out from Cape Horn and travelled along the west coast of South America taking treasure from Spanish and Portuguese settlements and ships. Drake received word that the Spanish ship Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion (Cacafuego) was heading towards Peru and it was filled with silver and jewels. Drake instantly changed his course to catch up with the Cacafuego and on 1st March 1579 just off the coast of Mexico he took over 362,000 pesos worth of silver from the Cacafuego.

Drake took the Golden Hinde north to North America where he docked and repaired the ship; he made contact and became the first European to trade with the local Native Americans. Drake named the land Nova Albion (New England) and claimed it in the name of Queen Elizabeth I.

Drakes routeDrake’s route around the world

From North America Drake sailed across the Pacific Ocean through Asia, the Golden Hinde arrived back in England at Plymouth via the Cape of Good Hope on 26th September 1580. The treasure that Drake acquired during his travels was calculated at £600,000 (approximately £25 million in today’s money). Half of this money was given to Elizabeth and the Royal Treasury was free from debt in the year that followed Drake’s return.

Queen Elizabeth I knighted Francis Drake aboard the Golden Hinde on 4th April 1581 whilst it was docked in Deptford and declared that the Golden Hinde should be a maritime museum. However, by the mid 1600s the ship fell into disrepair and disintegrated. The only parts of the ship that remains are a chair made from the timbers that is currently homed at the Bodleian Library in Oxford and a table (named the cupboard) that resides at the Middle Temple in London.

Hinde chairThe chair in the Bodleian Museum made from timber from

the Golden Hinde

On this day in 1534 – Pope Clement VII died

Pope Clement VII was born on 26th May 1478 as Giulio di Giuliano de’Medici. He was born in Florence one month after his father had been assassinated after the Pazzi Conspiracy. Giulio’s parents were not formally married, however, a loophole in canon law allowed for his parents to be betrothed which allowed Giulio to be considered legitimate. Giulio’s mother, Fioretta Gorini, died when he was a young age and was educated by his uncle, Lorenzo de’Medici, ruler of Florence.

In 1513 Giulio’s cousin Giovanni de’Medici was made Pope Leo X and made Giulio a Knight of Rhodes and Grand Prior of Capua and as a result he became one of the most powerful figures in Rome. He became one of Pope Leo X’s principal ministers and confidant.

On 23rd September 1513 Guilio was made Cardinal. Giulio was credited with being the main director of papal policy during his cousin’s reign. Between 1521 and 1522 he was Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Worcester.

Pope Leo X died in 1521 and Guilio was considered to be papabile in conclave however, he was not elected despite being one of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, preferred candidates. Guilio was a leading Cardinal during the papacy of Pope Adrian VI, who reigned less than a year before his unexpected death on 14th September 1523.

With Pope Adrian VI’s death a new conclave convened and Guilio was elected as Pope Clement VII. Upon his election one of Pope Clement’s first tasks was to send the Archbishop of Capua to the Kings of France, Spain and England in the hope of ending the Italian Wars, his attempt at peace failed. Following King Francis I of France’s invasion of Milan in 1524 Clement quit the Imperial-Spanish side of the Italian Wars and allied himself with the Italian princes which included the Republic of Venice and France in January 1525. The treaty was considered patriotic at the time, however, the unstable economy led to attacks from the Roman barons and the intervention of the Holy Roman Emperor. A month later Francis I was defeated and captured following the Battle of Pavia and Clement returned to his previous alliance with Charles V after signing an alliance with the viceroy of Naples.

Clement, however, once again switched his allegiance following the release of Francis I after the Treaty of Madrid in 1526. The Pope entered into the League of Cognac alongside France, Venice and Francesco Sforza of Milan.

Pope Clement’s change in politics caused the rise of the Imperial party inside the Curia; Cardinal Pompeo Colonna’s troops pillaged Vatican Hill and took control of Rome. Clement was forced to return the Papal States to an alliance with the Imperial side; however, Cardinal Colonna left the siege in Rome and headed to Naples leaving Clement to not follow through on his promise and remaining in alliance with the French. Clement also dismissed the Cardinal from his charge. Clement found himself alone in his alliance with France after the Duke of Ferrara, Alfonso d’Este, sided with the Imperial troops therefore leaving the road to Rome open for the German Landsknechts led by Charles III, Duke of Bourbon.

The Duke of Bourbon died during the siege and had left his army unpaid, starving and with no clear leader. On the 6th May 1527 the desolate army worked their way through Rome with many reports of vandalism, murder and rape. Pope Clement had no choice but to surrender on 6th June from Castel Sant’Angelo where he had taken refuge. In exchange for his life he agreed to pay 400,000 ducati in exchange for his life with the conditions that Parma, Piacenza, Civitavecchia and Modena were handed over to the Holy Roman Empire, whilst Venice also took advantage of the situation by capturing Cervia and Ravenna. For the six months following his surrender Clement was kept prisoner in Castel Sant’Angelo before he escaped after paying some Imperial officers. Clement disguised himself as a peddler and went first to Orvieto before heading to Viterbo he eventually returned to Rome in October 1528 to find is destroyed and depopulated.

During the Sack of Rome, in 1527, Clement received a request from King Henry VIII asking for his marriage to Katherine of Aragon to be annulled on the basis that it was unlawful in the eyes of God due to her previous marriage to his brother, Arthur. A dispensation had been issued from Pope Julius II before the marriage took place and Clement ruled that the dispensation was lawful and the marriage could not be annulled. The English clergy and lawyers advised Henry’s Privy Council that they could not forced the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Warham, to go against the Pope’s rulings. Warham died soon after and Henry persuaded the Pope to appoint Thomas Cranmer as the next Archbishop. Cranmer was a friend to Anne Boleyn and a reformer. Pope Clement issued the Papal Bulls that would allow Cranmer to take the position on the condition that he took an oath of allegiance to the Pope. Cranmer was consecrated as Archbishop but declared that he did not agree with the oath he was being asked to take. Cranmer granted Henry the annulment that he required and Henry swiftly married Anne Boleyn. Both Henry and Cranmer were excommunicated from the Catholic Church as a result of their actions. Henry would eventually lead Parliament in passing the Act of Supremacy that declared that Henry was the head of the Church of England and the papacy had no authority within the country.

On 25th September 1534 Pope Clement VII died, it was believed that he died after eating a poisonous mushroom; his body was interred in Santa Maria sopra Minerva. Just days prior to his death Clement had ordered Michelangelo to paint The Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel.

Pope Clement VIIPope Clement VII

On this day in 1561 – Edward Seymour was born

Edward Seymour was born on 24st September 1561 in the Tower of London to Edward Seymour, 1st Earl of Hertford and Lady Catherine Grey, sister to Lady Jane Grey. The marriage of Seymour’s parents was questionable as they kept their marriage a secret until Catherine became pregnant. A law had been passed stating that as Catherine was a potential claimant to the English throne she was unable to marry without Queen Elizabeth’s consent. Therefore when it was discovered the Earl of Hertford and Catherine had married they were taken to the Tower of London and questioned regarding the marriage. As neither could remember the date of their wedding and the priest could not be located their son was declared illegitimate and eventually she was separated from her husband and children until her death.

Seymour married Honora Rogers at some point during 1582 and they would go on to have six children; Edward, William, Francis, Honora, Anne and Mary. William Seymour would later go on to secretly marry his cousin Arbella Stuart and be imprisoned in the Tower of London like his grandparents were.

As the son of Lady Catherine Grey, Edward Seymour had a strong claim to the throne of England through Mary Tudor, King Henry VIII’s younger sister. However, Elizabeth chose to select King James VI of Scotland as her successor who had a claim through Margaret Tudor, Henry’s eldest sister. It is believed that James was chosen over Edward due to his illegitimacy.

Seymour died on 13th July 1612 at Great Bedwyn and was buried at Bedwyn Magna before being reinterred at Salisbury Cathedral.

Catherine Grey and Edward SeymourEdward Seymour and his mother, Catherine Grey

On this day in 1571 – Bishop John Jewel died

John Jewel was born in Buden, Devon and was educated originally by his uncle John Bellamy, rector of Hampton along with other private tutors until he matriculated at Merton College, Oxford in July 1535 where he was taught by John Pankhurst.

On 19th August 1539 Jewel was elected scholar of Corpus Christi College, Oxford where he graduated with a BA in 1540 and an MA in 1545 and was elected fellow of the college in 1542. After 1547 Jewel became of the chief disciples of Pietro Martire Vermigli, also known as Peter Martyr in England.

In 1552 Jewel graduated BD and was made vicar of Sunningwell as well as public orator of the university during which time he was required to write a congratulatory message to Queen Mary I upon her accession to the throne.

Despite signing a series of Catholic articles he was still suspecting of supporting Protestantism and he fled first to London before reaching Frankfurt in March 1555. He soon joined Martire Vermigli at Strasbourg before accompanying him to Zurich and Padua.

John JewelBishop John Jewel

With the accession of Queen Elizabeth I Jewel returned to England and began to secure a Low Church settlement and made it known that he was committed to Elizabeth’s reforms. Jewel was selected as one of nine Protestant disputants that were called upon to attend the Westminster Conference in 1559 where they would face nine Catholic representatives where they would dispute three articles that would help shape the future of Elizabethan England.

Jewel was also a select preacher at St. Paul’s Cross on 15th June and in the on 27th July his congé d’élire as Bishop of Salisbury had been made out although he was not consecrated until 21st January 1560.

Whilst preaching at St. Paul’s Cross on 26th November 1559 Jewel issued a challenge for anyone to prove the Catholics case out of the Scriptures or the councils or Fathers for the first 600 years after Christ. He issued the challenge again in 1560 when Dr Henry Cole took on the challenge. The outcome of this challenge was Jewel’s ‘Apologia ecclesiae Anglicanae’ published in 1562. According to Bishop Creighton, Jewel’s work was the first methodical statement of the position of the Church of England against the Church of Rome.

Jewel’s work received criticism from Thomas Harding, an Oxford contemporary and Catholic that entered a battle of words and thoughts with Jewel. Harding and Jewel would debate over the Anglo-Roman controversy; Jewel’s theology was eventually enjoined upon the Church of England by Archbishop Bancroft during the reign of King James I.

Jewel was consulted by the government on questions such as the English attitude towards the Council of Trent, a highly important ecumenical council of the Catholic Church.

Jewel was giving a sermon at Lacock, Wiltshire when he collapsed, he was taken to Monkton Farleigh, a manor house built on the site of a Cluniac priory, where he died on 23rd September 1571. He was buried in Salisbury Catherdral.

Monkton FarleighMonkton Farleigh Manor

On this day in 1515 – Anne of Cleves was born

Anne of Cleves was born 22nd September 1515 in Düsseldorf to John III, Duke of Cleves and his wife Maria, Duchess of Julich-Berg. Anne grew up on the edge of Solingen.

At the age of 11 in 1527 Anne was betrothed to Francis, the 10 year old son of the Duke of Lorraine. Due to his age in 1535 the betrothal was broken off and considered unofficial.

Anne’s brother succeeded his father as the Duke of Cleves and due to his support of the Reformation and his ongoing dispute with the Holy Roman Emperor, Cleves was considered by Thomas Cromwell as a convenient ally.

Following the death of his third wife, Jane Seymour, King Henry VIII was beginning to consider remarrying for the fourth time and began to seek out his options. Hans Holbein the Younger was sent to Cleves to paint both Anne and her younger sister, Amalia, Henry was considering either of the sisters as his wife. Holbein was instructed to be as accurate as possible in his painting and not to flatter the sisters. The paintings were brought back to Henry who chose Anne based on her portrait.

Negotiators were sent to Cleves to begin talks regarding a marriage between Anne and Henry. Thomas Cromwell oversaw the talks himself and a marriage treaty was signed on 4th October 1539. With the treaty signed Anne set off for England.

Anne_of_Cleves,_by_Hans_Holbein_the_YoungerAnne of Cleves

The Spanish Ambassador Eustace Chapuys wrote about Anne’s arrival in England;

“This year on St John’s Day, 27 Dec, Lady Anne, daughter of the Duke of Cleves in Germany, landed at Dover at 5 o’clock at night, and there was honourably received by the Duke of Suffolk and other great lords, and so lodged in the castle. And on the following Monday she rode to Canterbury where she was honourably received by the Archbishop of Canterbury and other great men, and lodged at the King’s palace at St Austin’s, and there highly feasted. On Tuesday she came to Sittingbourne.

On New Year’s Eve the Duke of Norfolk with other knights and the barons of the exchequer received her grace on the heath, two miles beyond Rochester; and so brought her to the abbey of Rochester where she stayed that night and all New Years Day. And on New Years Day in the afternoon the king’s grace with five of his privy chamber, being disguised with mottled cloaks with hoods so that they should not be recognised, came secretly to Rochester, and so went up into the chamber where the said Lady Anne was looking out of a window to see the bull-baiting which was going on in the courtyard, and suddenly he embraced and kissed her, and showed her a token which the King had sent her for New Year’s gift, and she being abashed and not knowing who it was thanked him and so he spoke with her. But she regarded him little, but always looked out the window… and when the King saw that she took so little notice of his coming he went into another chamber and took off his cloak and came in again in a coat of purple velvet. And when the lords and knights saw his grace they did reverence… and then her grace humbled herself lowly to the king’s majesty, and his grace saluted her again, and they talked together lovingly, and afterwards he took her by the hand and led her to another chamber where their graces amused themselves that night and on Friday until the afternoon.

…So she came to Greenwich that night, and was received as Queen. And the next day, being Sunday, the King’s grace kept a great court at Greenwich, where his grace with the Queen offered at mass, richly dressed. And on Twelfth Night, which was a Tuesday, the King’s majesty was married to the said Queen Anne solemnly, in her closet at Greenwich, and his grace and she went publicly in procession that day, she having a rich coronet of stone and pearls set with rosemary on her hair, and a gown of rich cloth of silver, richly hung with stones and pearls, with all her ladies and gentlewomen following her, which was a goodly sight to behold.”

Although Chapuys report shows the happy display the couple put on, away from public eyes Henry was unhappy with his new bride after she first failed to impress at their meeting in Rochester. Anne was expected to recognise her masked suitor as her new husband as per the rules of courtly love but she did not understand what was being played out in front of her. Henry urged Thomas Cromwell and his councillors to find a way out of the marriage

Despite Henry’s protestations and no solution to his request the marriage went ahead on 6th January 1540 at Greenwich Palace, presided over by Archbishop Cranmer. The couple then spent an unsuccessful wedding night together. Henry complained further about Anne in particular he described Anne as having bad odour and saggy breasts amongst other complaints, he also stated that Anne was unprepared for married life and what was expected of her on her wedding night. It was known that Henry reported to Cromwell ‘I liked her before not well, but now I like her much worse’.

By 24th June 1540 Anne was commanded to leave the court and was moved to Richmond Palace, while Anne remained in the dark as to what was happening back at Greenwich Stephen Gardiner was investigating the pre-contract Anne had with the Duke of Lorraine’s son. On 6th July 1540 Anne was informed that Henry was worried that their marriage was not lawful and her consent was sought for the marriage to be investigated. Anne gave her consent probably fearful of her life if she did not.

The marriage between Henry and Anne was declared invalid on 9th July 1540 due to three factors; Anne’s pre-contract with the Duke of Lorriane, Henry’s lack of consent to the marriage and the lack of consummation after the wedding. In exchange for a quick and easy annulment Henry granted Anne an income of £4000 a year, houses at Richmond Palace, Bletchingley and Lewes along with jewels, furniture, hangings as well as Hever Castle, the former home of Henry’s second wife, Anne Boleyn. Anne was also given the title of King’s sister and allowed to attend court.

Anne of Cleves signatureAnne’s signature

Although the marriage did not work out between the couple Henry and Anne would go on to have a good relationship when Henry married his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, Henry visited Anne to inform her personally of the marriage. After the fall of Catherine Howard Anne’s brother, the Duke of Cleves, pushed her case for the King to remarry Anne, a suggestion that was quickly refused instead marrying Catherine Parr, a woman that Anne appeared to dislike.

After King Henry VIII’s death Anne remained in England and in March 1547 the new King Edward VI’s Privy Council asked Anne to vacate her home at Bletchingley Palace and relocate to Penshurst Palace in order for Thomas Cawarden, the new Master of Revels to live in Bletchingley.

Anne lived quietly away from court during Edward’s reign. When Edward’s eldest sister took the throne after his death Anne wrote to Mary on 4th August 1553 to congratulate her former step-daughter on her marriage to Philip of Spain. The following month on 28th September Anne accompanied Mary from St James’s Palace to Whitehall, Elizabeth also accompanied the pair.

With the country reverting back to Catholicism Anne changed her religion to please the new Queen and despite the few appearances at the beginning of Mary’s reign, including her coronation Anne remained away from court. That is until Wyatt’s Rebellion in 1554 when Anne’s relationship with Elizabeth caused Mary to question Anne’s motives and Mary was convinced that “the Lady (Anne) of Cleves was of the plot and intrigued with the Duke of Cleves to obtain help for Elizabeth: matters in which the king of France was the prime mover.”

After falling under Mary’s suspicion Anne did not attend court again and chose to live quietly on her estates until her health began to deteriorate when Mary permitted Anne to relocate to Chelsea Old Manor, the former home of Henry’s final wife Catherine Parr. In July 1557 Anne dictated her final will, she remembers her family as well as the Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Suffolk and Countess of Arundel. Anne also left money for her servants and asked Mary and Elizabeth to find employment for them within their households.

Anne died on 16th July 1557; aged 41, the cause of death is unconfirmed. Anne was buried in Westminster Abbey, the only one of Henry’s wives that was buried there. Her tomb is opposite the shrine for Edward the Confessor.

Annes tomb Westminster AbbeyAnne of Cleves tomb in Westminster Abbey

Book review – Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower: A new assessment by Sandra Vasoli.

Anne Boleyn’s final days were spent in the Tower of London after being arrested and accused of adultery. Alone and desperate to inform her husband, King Henry VIII, of her innocence on 6th May 1536 she wrote a letter to the King in the hope that he would forgive her. It read;

“Sir, your Grace’s displeasure, and my Imprisonment are Things so strange unto me, as what to Write, or what to Excuse, I am altogether ignorant; whereas you sent unto me (willing me to confess a Truth, and so obtain your Favour) by such a one, whom you know to be my ancient and professed Enemy; I no sooner received the Message by him, than I rightly conceived your Meaning; and if, as you say, confessing Truth indeed may procure my safety, I shall with all Willingness and Duty perform your Command.

But let your Grace ever imagine that your poor Wife will ever be brought to acknowledge a Fault, where not so much as Thought thereof proceeded. And to speak a truth, never Prince had Wife more Loyal in all Duty, and in all true Affection, than you have found in Anne Boleyn, with which Name and Place could willingly have contented my self, as if God, and your Grace’s Pleasure had been so pleased. Neither did I at any time so far forge my self in my Exaltation, or received Queenship, but that I always looked for such an Alteration as now I find; for the ground of my preferment being on no surer Foundation than your Grace’s Fancy, the least Alteration, I knew, was fit and sufficient to draw that Fancy to some other subject.

You have chosen me, from a low Estate, to be your Queen and Companion, far beyond my Desert or Desire. If then you found me worthy of such Honour, Good your Grace, let not any light Fancy, or bad Counsel of mine Enemies, withdraw your Princely Favour from me; neither let that Stain of a Disloyal Heart towards your good Grace, ever cast so foul a Blot on your most Dutiful Wife, and the Infant Princess your Daughter:

Try me, good King, but let me have a Lawful Trial, and let not my sworn Enemies sit as my Accusers and Judges; yes, let me receive an open Trial, for my Truth shall fear no open shame; then shall you see, either mine Innocency cleared, your Suspicion and Conscience satisfied, the Igominy and Slander of the World stopped, or my Guilt openly declared. So that whatsoever God or you may determine of me, your Grace may be freed from an open Censure; and mine Offence being so lawfully proved, your Grace is at liberty, both before God and Man, not only to execute worthy Punishment on me as an unlawful Wife, but to follow your Affection already settled on that party, for whose sake I am now as I am, whose Name I could some good while since have pointed unto: Your Grace being not ignorant of my Suspicion therein.

But if you have already determined of me, and that not only my Death but an Infamous Slander must bring you the enjoying of your desired Happiness; then I desire of God, that he will pardon your great Sin therein, and likewise mine Enemies, the Instruments thereof; that he will not call you o a strict Account for your unprincely and cruel usage of me, at his General Judgement-Seat, where both of you and my self must shortly appear, and in whose Judgement, I doubt not, (whatsoever the World may think of me) mine Innocence shall be openly known, and sufficiently cleared.

My last and only Request shall be, That my self may only bear the Burthen of your Grace’s Displeasure, and that it may not touch the Innocent Souls of those poor Gentlemen, who (as I understand) are likewise in strait Imprisonment for my sake. If ever I have found favour in your Sight; if ever the Name of Anne Boleyn hath been pleasing to your Ears, then let me obtain this Request; and I will so leave to trouble your Grace any further, with mine earnest Prayers to the Trinity to have your Grace in his good keeping, and to direct you in all your Actions.

Your most Loyal and ever Faithful Wife, Anne Bullen

From my doleful Prison the Tower, this 6th of May.”

anne-boleyns-final-letter

The origins of this one letter has been discussed and debated for years. Did Anne Boleyn really write this? Why was it found amongst the papers of Thomas Cromwell after his execution? Did King Henry VIII ever read the letter or even regret sending Anne to her death? Well Sandra Vasoli has sent about re-examining the letter and found some compelling new evidence that could potentially answer the question of whether Henry regretted his actions or not.

Sandra begins by taking us through a brief history of Anne’s relationship with Henry and the breakdown of their marriage which resulted in Anne’s imprisonment in the Tower of London. We also see the rivalry between Anne and Thomas Cromwell.

Sandra also provides what happened to the letter after Anne had written it and how it ended up in the possession of Robert Bruce Cotton and eventually the British Library. The story of the letter’s journey is incredible and Cotton’s collection also included the letters from to Thomas Cromwell from William Kingston regarding Anne’s behaviour during her time in the Tower.

The author of this letter has long been disputed with many arguing that Anne did not write it at all, however, Sandra believes that Anne may have dictated the letter to someone who put the words onto paper. Sandra also provides an analysis as to the contents of the letter. It is fascinating to see just what was going through Anne’s mind as she attempted one last time to appeal to her husband to save her life.

There is a clear timeline of events in Sandra’s book which reaches its pinnacle with Sandra’s discovery of Henry’s regret, it was said he spoke his regret as he approached his death. This discovery is fascinating and really made me look at the way I view King Henry VIII and the events that surrounded May 1536.

Anne Boleyn’s letter from the Tower is a great book that explains one particular event in the life of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII. I for one hope that this latest discovery shines a new light on an event that has been discussed throughout time. Sandra has done a tremendous job in giving a greater understanding in the history of Anne’s letter and I for one hope this discovery of Henry’s regret begins to change how we view why Henry reached the decision to execute the wife he tore the country apart for.

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Sandra recently took part in a book tour and visited Tudor Chronicles to talk about how she came to see the Book of Hours that Henry and Anne wrote notes to each other. You can read it here https://thetudorchronicles.wordpress.com/2015/09/15/sandra-vasolis-book-tour-anne-boleyns-letter-from-the-tower/

Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower: A new assessment is available now from http://www.amazon.co.uk/Anne-Boleyns-Letter-Tower-Assessment-ebook/dp/B014R7227A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1442843088&sr=8-1&keywords=anne+boleyn%27s+letter+from+the+tower

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