Saturday, 24 May 2014

Katherine Howard: the Fashion-Loving Queen?


Above: Katherine Howard - trendsetter and fashion lover?

Cleopatra, Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth I, Marie Antoinette - all were fashion-loving queens who emerged as trendsetters at their respective courts, evoking glamour, sophistication and originality into the costumes they eagerly wore as symbols of their power and influence. Katherine Howard, the short-reigning fifth queen consort of Henry VIII, is not typically included amongst these royal fashion legends. But interestingly enough, tantalising glimpses within the sources indicate that this queen was a woman who loved fashion, and who stood out amongst Henry's wives (with the possible, obvious exception of her French-fashion loving cousin Anne Boleyn) for her delight and love of fashion. Observers who met Queen Katherine focused, above all, on her dress in their writings, ranging from the appreciative comments of the French ambassador, who met her in the glorious days of her honeymoon in the late summer of 1540, that she had taken to wearing French clothes, to the Imperial ambassador's recollection that she had been wearing a gown of black velvet when she was taken to the Tower of London barely eighteen months later.

A range of evidence offers compelling insights into Katherine's love of fashion. In September 1540, just two months after she had married Henry VIII, the French ambassador Charles Marillac visited her while the court was on progress. Although he found her to be graceful, rather than beautiful, Marillac appreciatively noted that she had dressed both herself and her ladies in the latest and most becoming French fashions. An insight into how Katherine might have looked in her stunning French gowns at the time Marillac met her can be discerned in the portrait miniature below, believed to be of the Queen:

 
As Susan James comments, the fur-trimmed sleeves worn in the miniature alongside the jewelled bodice and cap of matching material in brown indicates that the portrait was painted in the autumn or winter. If it is a portrait of Katherine, therefore (and there is some doubt about this), it might reasonably therefore be suggested that the queen sat for this miniature between September 1540 and February 1541, around the time that the French ambassador met her personally and commented on her love of French fashion. Although Susan James, in her article, suggests that the miniature is actually a portrait of Lady Margaret Douglas, a niece of Henry VIII, the emerald and ruby pendant worn by the sitter is a jewel that had previously been worn by Jane Seymour, Katherine's predecessor. The queen's jewels were worn by the women who occupied that role, and following Jane's death, her jewellery would have passed to Katherine to wear.

The notorious Chronicle of King Henry VIII of England, more commonly known as The Spanish Chronicle, was written by an unknown Spaniard in the mid-sixteenth century, and has been derided by historians for its inaccuracies and sensationalised nature. Interestingly, however, this account provides further insights into Katherine Howard's love of fashion, and suggests that this love was known beyond the confines of the court. Just as Katherine of Aragon was revered for her piety, and Anne Boleyn famed for her interests in theology and music, so, too, might Katherine Howard have come to be associated with elegant and glamorous dress. The author wrote: 'The King had no wife who made him spend so much money in dresses and jewels as she did, who every day had some fresh caprice'. It is a comment that could easily be written about the likes of Marie Antoinette. Add this remark to Ambassador Marillac's comments and a clear picture emerges of a fashion-loving queen famed for her love of luxurious and expensive dress.


Above: Queen Katherine, teenage queen and fashion lover. One observer wrote of the fifth queen: 'The King had no wife who made him spend so much money in dresses and jewels as she did, who every day had some fresh caprice'.

But if Katherine loved adorning herself in the finest of fabrics and the most dazzling of jewels, she was ready and willing to impart that love to others and share it with them. A look at her inventory demonstrates this, and suggests a kind-hearted and caring girl who wanted others to love fashion in the same way in which she did. Katherine bestowed upon her two stepdaughters, the twenty-four year old Mary and the seven-year old Elizabeth, gifts of jewellery, including a pomander of gold with rubies and pearls, and she was also to grant her former mistress and predecessor, the rejected Anne of Cleves, a ring. More famously still, according to the Proceedings of the Privy Council, upon hearing of the news of the aged Countess of Salisbury's imprisonment in the Tower in the spring of 1541, the queen ordered her tailor to provide the aged prisoner with a furred nightgown, a furred petticoat, a kirtle, a nightgown, a frontlet, four pairs of hose, four pairs of shoes, and one pair of slippers. Tragically, the 68-year old noblewoman was bloodthirstily beheaded in May 1541, but one would hope that Katherine's gifts of clothing would have provided her with at least some comfort.


Above: Margaret Pole, countess of Salisbury (left), and Mary Tudor, later queen of England (right), were two women who experienced Katherine Howard's inordinate love of fashion. 

The last few months of Katherine's life offer final tantalising glimpses into the close associations she was clearly felt to possess with fashion. Upon being imprisoned in Syon Abbey in November 1541, it was specifically ordered that her clothing should only be plain, and her French hoods should contain no jewels. Just as her expensive and lavish French fashion and royal jewellery had demonstrated her power and legitimacy as the beloved consort of the King in the times of her queenship, so, too, did Katherine's downgraded fashion demonstrate visibly her disgrace and disfavour. Upon being taken to the Tower in February 1542, the Imperial ambassador felt it apt to record that the queen, she who had once taken such pride in French designs and glittering jewels, was merely wearing a gown of black velvet. This fashion choice may have been a calculated move on Katherine's part, allowing for a measure of dignity and a suggestion of the gravity of her situation, or it may merely have reflected the limited array of clothing she now had at her disposal.

It is uncertain what Katherine wore on the scaffold, for no contemporary observers felt it necessary to record what she wore - a somewhat surprising omission, given that this article has suggested that her associations with, and love of, fashion were well known. Disgraced Tudor queens about to die on the scaffold had something of a habit for utilising fashion to make a final and compelling statement to the assembled audience. We know that Queen Anne Boleyn had wore an elegant gown of grey damask with a crimson kirtle underneath and a mantle trimmed with ermine. These represented two conscious and clever fashion choices on the part of the queen. Crimson, as Alison Weir notes, was the Catholic colour of martyrdom, so by wearing it, Queen Anne was effectively proclaiming her innocence and martyrdom in the most visible means possible. Secondly, her ermine mantle, a fur only worn by the royalty, represented her position as queen to the very last. In so doing, Anne died proclaiming both her innocence and her royalty. Similarly, in 1587, Mary Queen of Scots selected a red costume to wear to her execution, in a calculated effort to emphasise her martyrdom and innocence.

Queen Jane Grey, on the other hand, chose to wore a gown of black, probably the same which she had worn to her public trial three months previously. Of course, in Delaroche's famous painting of 1833, the teenage Queen is replete in white costume, emphasising her innocence, fragility, and martyrdom. But this painting is steeped in inaccuracies. The real Jane wore black to the scaffold. Couple this fashion choice with her devout Protestant faith, so evident in the last days of her life, and a clear picture emerges of a woman determined to emphasise her sobriety, earnestness, piety and dignity to the last, dying in her faith. Just as Anne Boleyn chose to celebrate her innocence and royalty on the scaffold, Jane Grey focused on her Protestant faith and dignity, while Mary Queen of Scots' red costume declared her martyrdom and death in the Catholic faith.

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Above: Three other beheaded queens - Anne Boleyn, Jane Grey and Mary Stuart - made calculated choices in their outfits on the scaffold, employing fashion to offer a final and compelling statement.

By contrast to her fellow executed queens, we have no way of knowing what Katherine Howard wore to her execution. It may well have been the black velvet dress she wore on her journey to the Tower, spotted by Ambassador Chapuys. It is somewhat ironic that, for a woman clearly besotted with fashion, it is unknown what she wore on the final, and most dramatic, day of her short-lived life.

Despite this tantalising omission, the fragments available from surviving sources convincingly suggest that Katherine was a fashion-loving queen who may have acted as something of a trendsetter at the English court. She did not revolutionise fashion, in the way in which the likes of Elizabeth I and Marie Antoinette were to do, but she revelled in it and clearly wished to impart that passion to other members of her court. Often dismissed as frivolous and empty-headed, Katherine may actually have been using fashion in a more clever and calculated effort to enhance and celebrate the prestige and power of the Tudor dynasty, by appearing well-dressed, spectacular, and mesmerising at the side of her husband, Henry VIII, a man who, of course, was well known for his love of splendour and glory. 




Monday, 19 May 2014

In Memory of Anne Boleyn


On 19 May 1536, an unprecedented event occurred in England. Queen Anne Boleyn, second consort of Henry VIII of England, was beheaded within the walls of the Tower of London, between eight and nine in the morning (sources differ), on charges of treason, adultery and incest. She was later buried within the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula, situated near to Tower Green, the falsely alleged site of Anne's death.

Famously, Anne had only been queen for one thousand days, having married Henry three years previously. Born at the turn of the century to Sir Thomas Boleyn and Lady Elizabeth Howard, Anne had served at European courts for most of her childhood before returning to her home country in 1521/2, where she attracted the love of the king in 1526 as a vivacious, intelligent and ambitious woman in her twenties, serving in the household of Queen Katherine of Aragon. It took seven years before Anne finally became queen, only to die for alleged sexual crimes and plotting her husband's death in May 1536. She left one daughter, Elizabeth, aged only two and a half years old at her mother's death, who would become queen twenty-two years later.

Above: Princess Elizabeth, the future Elizabeth I, daughter of Anne Boleyn.

I was introduced to Anne at the age of about eleven, having read Carolyn Meyer's children's novel Mary, Bloody Mary, writing from the perspective of Princess Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry VIII and his first wife, Katherine of Aragon. Unsurprisingly, it offered a demonic view of Anne as an evil temptress who plotted Mary's death and that of her mother. My first introduction to Anne, therefore, was hardly positive; but Meyer's later novel Doomed, Queen Anne offered a fairer assessment of Anne (though hardly more accurate) as an awkward, perhaps disfigured girl who was nonetheless able to use her supreme confidence and social graces acquired at the court of France to attract Henry VIII and become his queen, only to die on false charges when his love for her rapidly turned to hate, due to her failure to bear him a son.

From these novels, a powerful fascination with Anne Boleyn developed. I soon read Jean Plaidy's beautifully written The Lady in the Tower, a novel that I would argue offers a particularly sympathetic, and fair, portrayal of Anne and which is far better written than modern books about her such as The Other Boleyn Girl or The Queen of Subtleties. Plaidy depicted her as a sensitive, thoughtful young woman who never wanted to be queen, desiring only her first love Henry Percy, betrayed by a selfish king intent on a male heir. Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl provided a highly sexualised, captivating, if vulgar Anne who used anything - and anyone - to manipulate her way to the throne. The Queen of Subtleties, written by Suzannah Dunn, similarly presented the queen as a foul-mouthed, vulgar and ambitious woman, which is hardly convincing given the nature of Anne's luxurious childhood.

I particularly enjoyed Dorothy Tutin's portrayal of Anne in the 1970 BBC TV series The Six Wives of Henry VIII, which portrayed her as older, measured and more dignified than she is usually presented in popular culture, but which also hinted at her shrewish, insecure, and jealous nature (which may come close to the truth). Natalie Portman offered a beautiful and seductive Anne in the 2008 film The Other Boleyn Girl, but unlike Natalie Dormer's initially similar depiction in the TV series The Tudors, Portman's performance lacked gravity and conviction. Genevieve Bujold, of course, delivered a powerful, energetic and emotionally charged performance as the doomed queen in the 1969 film Anne of the Thousand Days.

Above: Natalie Dormer (left) and Genevieve Bujold (right) offered standout performances as Anne Boleyn in The Tudors (2007-10) and Anne of the Thousand Days (1969), respectively.

Anne is often depicted as mesmerising, beautiful, almost perfect in her attractions, in mediums such as The Tudors and The Other Boleyn Girl - but the real woman was very different. Although the malicious slurs of the Elizabethan Catholic recusant Nicholas Sander, charging that she was physically disfigured and witchlike, can easily be dismissed, it is apparent that Anne was not a conventional beauty. A Venetian ambassador described her thus:

"Not one of the handsomest women in the world; she is of middling stature, swarthy complexion, long neck, wide mouth, a bosom not much raised and eyes which are black and beautiful".  

George Cavendish hinted that she had an extra nail on one of her hands, but hardly a sixth finger, as Sander states. It was not, however, Anne's physical appearance that attracted Henry VIII, and other male courtiers. It was her captivating, vivacious and compelling personality, her sophistication, her charm, her charisma, in short. Intelligent, cultivated, educated, and opinionated, Anne stood out amongst the other ladies at both the French and English courts. Perhaps this is something still difficult for people to believe today: that for a woman to be attractive, she does not need to be physically beautiful. It can be her personality that makes her so.

Above: often depicted as visually stunning in films, TV and novels, the real Anne Boleyn might not have been so physically perfect, as these three purported portraits of her make clear.

Anne has rightly been called by her eminent biographer, the late Eric Ives, 'the most influential and the most important queen consort in English history'. This is a fair claim to make, given her powerful religious role and involvement in the English Reformation, her charitable activities, her part in the divorce (what Ives calls 'the most shattering marriage break up in history'), her role as patron, to name but a few. It is surely Anne's tragic death, however, that has made her so famous across the world. Few historians, with the exception of G.W. Bernard, today believe that Anne was truly guilty of the crimes she was alleged to have committed. If she was, as seems likely, in truth innocent of these crimes, then her death was nothing short of legalised murder. She was executed in what was a gross miscarriage of justice. But Anne was to triumph. Calm, dignified, resigned, and yet still beautiful, elegant, and mesmerising on the scaffold, as she had been throughout her life, Anne triumphed by virtue of her daughter Elizabeth's succession to the throne in 1558, to begin a glorious reign that lasted 45 years, a triumph that few could have foreseen in 1536. On this day in history, 19 May, we should remember the life of this incredible and inspiring woman, who was killed so brutally and so unjustly within the Tower. To Anne Boleyn, queen of England, RIP.


Above: a legend in her lifetime, an enduring icon. Queen Anne Boleyn. 

I admire this woman for her resourcefulness, her courage, her driving will, her ambition, her loyalty, her intelligence, her piety... Above all, she was a complex, two-dimensional and multifaceted human being, a concept which so many people still seem to struggle with. I have not found anyone in history who fascinates me as much as Anne Boleyn. I think she was an absolutely incredible woman who achieved things others could only dream about. She was cut down cruelly and unjustly in the prime of her youth, who knows how much longer she could have lived and how much more she could have achieved. I think her continuing legacy speaks volumes about her as a person, and I hope she has achieved the peace in death she was denied so cruelly in life, whether by the suspicion of her husband, the pressures of her position, or the slanders of court gossips and the nation at large. She has been so maligned and misrepresented even nearly five hundred years on. I admire Anne Boleyn and I congratulate her for everything she achieved in her inspiring life. RIP the Queen!

Above: a portrait of Anne Boleyn and her daughter, the infant princess Elizabeth, shortly before Anne's arrest. Anne's daughter would eventually become queen twenty-two years later. 

Friday, 16 May 2014

16 May 1770: The Marriage of Marie Antoinette and Dauphin Louis Auguste of France


Above: Marie Antoinette, dauphine of France and, later, queen consort (left).
The Palace of Versailles (right).

On this day in history, 16 May 1770, the ceremonial wedding of Dauphin Louis Auguste of France and his fiance, Marie Antoinette (formerly Archduchess Maria Antonia of Austria), took place at the Palace of Versailles just outside of Paris, France. The future queen consort of France had actually only arrived at Versailles that very morning, and must have been swept away by the imposing grandeur of the palace, the most spectacular of its kind in Europe.

In 1765, the series of events leading to the Austrian archduchess' betrothal to the heir to the French throne had begun, when Marie Antoinette's father, the Austrian Emperor, had died of a stroke that year. Because of the deaths of several of her siblings from a smallpox epidemic, Marie Antoinette was the only available daughter for the fourteen-year old French dauphin Louis Auguste. Negotiations for a betrothal began, but as historians such as Caroline Weber point out, the rigorous standards of the French court meant that the prospective bride had to be considerably beautified and perfected to fit in with their exacting standards. Her crooked smile was cosmetically altered so that it would be "very beautiful and straight". The bride's dowry was set at 200,000 crowns and, as Weber states, Empress Maria Theresa, mother of Marie Antoinette, spent 400,000 livres on her youngest daughter's trosseau, far more than she had lavished on her other children. 


Above: the future Louis XVI of France, husband of Marie Antoinette.

On 19 April 1770, aged fourteen, Marie Antoinette was married by proxy in the Church of the Augustine Friars in Vienna, Austria, where she had been baptised following her birth. On 7 May, nine days before her official marriage, the new French dauphine was handed over to her French relations on a French island near Kehl, the ceremonial halfway point between the Austrian empire and France. Marie Antoinette was acquainted with her new husband's family, including his amorous grandfather Louis XV of France, the king's daughters Mesdames Adelaide, Victoire, and Sophie, and her future brothers-in-law. On 16 May, she arrived at Versailles, and was married that same day.

The dauphine was dressed in a lavish gown of white cloth-of-silver, which as Weber remarks was the traditionally prescribed material for the wedding gown of a dauphine. It was enhanced by gorgeous diamonds which Marie Antoinette had received from her formidable mother, Empress Maria Theresa, as wedding gifts. However, the wedding gown was far too small in its bodice, which meant that there was, according to one observer, "quite a broad stripe of lacing and shift quite visible". Black thunderclouds filled the summer sky and were perceived to be an ominous omen, according to the Duc de Richelieu. Despite the problems with her wedding dress, Marie Antoinette "cut a breathtaking figure as she made her way to the King's Chapel" (Weber). As Mademoiselle Cosson de la Cressonniere wrote:

Bearing the wishes of her court,
She comes, by noble marriage led;
'Tis Psyche in the bloom of youth
Conducted here to Cupid's bed.

Although the dauphine appeared graceful and elegant, her teenage husband was seen to tremble excessively during the wedding service and blushed when he passed his new wife the wedding ring. At the wedding meal, he ate with gusto, in contrast to Marie Antoinette who ate barely anything, instead appearing as "a statue of Beauty". Clearly, the rigorous lessons she had undertaken in her youth in grace, charm and sophistication had paid dividends in what was, thus far, the most important ceremony and occasion of her life. Following the wedding service and public dinner, the royal couple were publicly put to bed "before the whole world". However, the newlyweds did not consummate their wedding that night. Royal ambassadors learned of this embarrassing detail the following morning and hastily informed their royal masters of this scandalous fact. Marie Antoinette was later to admit that her new husband had not even touched her hand. As Marie Antoinette's biographer Antonia Fraser states, the lack of consummation was to plague the reputation of both Louis and Marie Antoinette for seven years to come.

Thus it was that this tragic teenage couple were married at Versailles in 1770. Surely no one could then have foreseen that, only twenty-three years later, both these figures would be dead, brutally guillotined in the wake of a bloodthirsty Revolution that swept France and enacted devastating and unprecedented change.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

13 May 1515 - Marriage of Mary Queen of France and Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk


Above: the marriage of Mary Tudor, former queen of France, and Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk, took place on 13 May 1515.

On this day in history, 13 May 1515, the marriage between Mary Tudor, formerly queen consort of France, to Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk and close friend of Henry VIII, took place. Their marriage was a love match and it caused considerable controversy, for Mary's first marriage to the French king, Louis XII, had only recently ended through his death, and Brandon was not royal. Nor had Mary asked her brother, Henry VIII, for permission to marry.

Mary was the youngest surviving daughter of the first Tudor king, Henry VII, and Elizabeth of York. She was born on 18 March 1496 at Richmond Palace in Surrey, reportedly her father's favourite residence. The humanist scholar described the youthful Tudor princess as extremely "beautiful". Her charm and beauty was famous in Europe. The Venetian ambassador was to describe her at the time of her marriage, when she was eighteen, as being 'tall, slender, grey-eyed', in short, 'a Paradise'. A French observer further commented that Mary was 'one of the most beautiful young women in the world'. She had long, red-golden hair and blue eyes. She closely resembled her elder brother, Henry, in looks, and like him she had a fiery temper and could be stubborn and determined, as her pursuit of Brandon demonstrated.


Above: Mary Tudor, the French queen consort.

Although, as a child, Mary had been betrothed to Charles, the future Holy Roman Emperor, and had been groomed for a glorious future as archduchess of Burgundy and princess of Castile, her brother Henry VIII decided to marry her off to his ally, the French king, Louis XII, who was aged in his fifties and had been married twice previously, when relations with the Habsburgs fell into disrepute. In the autumn of 1514, the eighteen-year old Princess Mary was betrothed to a man aged approximately 34 years older than her. Although this might seem shocking to modern sensibilities, it was completely usual for the time, especially for royalty. Mary's later husband, Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk, married Katherine Willoughby when Katherine was aged only fourteen and he was aged forty-nine, and Henry VIII, aged forty-nine, married the sixteen-year old Katherine Howard in 1540.

Traditionally, especially in popular culture, Mary has been depicted as a petulant teenager who adamantly refused to marry the elderly French king. When Henry VIII informed her that she had no choice, she allegedly made a bargain with him in which he agreed that, were the French king to die, Mary would be able to marry whomever she liked. However, as historian David Loades states, there is no record of Mary's feelings about her French bridegroom and no such record of any bargain. 


Above: Anne Boleyn was briefly attendant to Queen Mary Tudor in 1514, and some nineteen years later, was to become her sister-in-law.

On 9 October, having arrived in France, Mary's marriage to King Louis was celebrated with elaborate ceremony at pomp. On 5 November, Mary was crowned at St. Denis. Unhappiness surfaced, however, when the new French queen's English entourage was by and large dismissed. She was, however, left with one notable attendant - a young English girl (possibly aged as young as six, but more probably twelve or thirteen) named Anne Boleyn, who would nineteen years later, for a very brief spell, become Mary's sister-in-law, but no-one could have foreseen that in 1514. Mary soon felt isolated and vulnerable, and the teenage queen, alone in a foreign land, soon began writing despairing letters to her brother, the King of England. Mary's unhappiness was not to last long, however, for on 1 January 1515, after barely three months of marriage, the ailing and exhausted Louis died, allegedly of being danced to death by his energetic queen.


Above: Louis XII of France, first husband of Mary Tudor.

Following Louis XII's death, Mary's name was soon being linked to that of the duke of Savoy and the duke of Lorraine, for her royal blood, youth and beauty made her an excellent prospect. Whether Mary had been in love with Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk, before she had sailed to France, or whether it was an infatuation that developed when Brandon led a delegation of honour to France after the queen's coronation, is impossible to say. It seems, however, that both had strong feelings of passion for one another, and according to Loades, in February 1515 the eighteen-year old dowager queen 'virtually forced him to marry her secretly'. Henry VIII was furious, for not only had Mary not asked for his permission to remarry, but Brandon had married a princess of the blood without royal permission, and which constituted an act of treason. The couple were forced to pay a hefty fine in order to attain royal forgiveness.

On this day, 13 May 1515, three months after their secret union, Charles Brandon and Mary Tudor wed publicly at Greenwich Palace, having arrived safely back in England. Thus, barely six months after being crowned Queen of France, the youngest Tudor princess became Duchess of Suffolk. While Charles was to play an important role at court, thereafter Mary visited court only intermittently. She bore Charles four children: Henry (who died young), Frances Brandon (the mother of Lady Jane Grey), Eleanor Brandon and a second Henry Brandon. 

The nature of the Suffolks' marriage is impossible to pinpoint, but romantic tradition and the available historical evidence indicates that it was, at least initially, a love match. On 25 June 1533, Mary died aged thirty-seven, and it is possible that she died estranged from Henry VIII, for she had vocally disapproved of his second marriage to Anne Boleyn, her former maid of honour. Part of this dislike and resentment of Anne may have been because of Mary's closeness with Katherine of Aragon. 

As David Loades concludes, Mary Tudor's main importance lies in her 'claim to the English throne that she transmitted via her elder daughter, Frances, to Jane and Katherine Grey, Frances's daughters from her marriage to Henry Grey, seventh marquess of Dorset'. When Charles and Mary wed in 1515, two headstrong young lovers, it is almost certain that they could never then have envisaged that, forty years later, their granddaughter, Lady Jane Grey, would become queen of England - albeit for only thirteen days.


Above: Lady Jane Grey, queen of England, and granddaughter of Charles Brandon and Mary Tudor.

Friday, 2 May 2014

The Arrest of Queen Anne Boleyn



On this day in history, Tuesday 2 May 1536, Queen Anne Boleyn, the second consort of Henry VIII, was arrested on charges of high treason and taken to the Tower of London. According to contemporary sources, the Queen had been watching a game of tennis when she was disturbed by a messenger arriving from the Privy Council, who informed her that she must present herself by order of the Council, 'by order of the King'. This must have appeared ominous and, given the mounting tensions in the past few weeks and the king's mysterious behaviour during the May Day jousts the day before, Anne must have been unsettled and, quite possibly, in fear for her life.

Anne was noted for her intelligence and wit, and it seems incredible to believe that she was ignorant that something momentous was afoot. On 26 April, six days before her arrest, she had, famously, entreated the future Archbishop of Canterbury Matthew Parker to take care of her infant daughter, Princess Elizabeth, should anything happen to her. A few days later, she had publicly berated the musician Mark Smeaton for his conduct towards her, and around the same time she accused the courtier Henry Norris of "seeking to have me", in effect, looking for "dead men's shoes" and wishing the death of the king. Norris was appalled at her suggestion, and Anne only belatedly realised the danger in what she had said. 


Appearing before the Privy Council as ordered, the Queen was informed that she was charged with committing adultery with three men: Smeaton, Norris and a third unnamed man; and she was also told that both Norris and Smeaton had confessed - a lie, for Norris had steadfastly maintained his innocence, and would continue to do so. Only Smeaton, perhaps because he was tortured, insisted that he had had sexual intercourse with Anne. At 2 o'clock that afternoon, she was escorted to the Tower, the first queen of England to be imprisoned there. She would not be the last, and she would never leave its walls except to take the short journey to the scaffold.

Anne was met by Sir William Kingston, the Constable of the Tower, upon her arrival. He was to treat her with respect, courtesy and admiration, although it is unknown whether or not he personally believed in her innocence. She asked him upon her arrival: "Master Kingston, shall I go into a dungeon?" When he promised her that no, she would instead occupy the suite in which she had housed during her coronation, she reputedly began laughing and cried: "It is too good for me". She began weeping at the same time. Anne then asked the Constable why she was in the Tower, clearly disbelieving the official statement that she was incarcerated because of suspected adultery. She was clearly aware that Norris was imprisoned alongside her, for she stated: "O Norris, hast thou accused me? Thou art in the Tower with me, and thou and I shall die together". Clearly she had little hope. Anne then feared that her mother would "die of sorrow" upon hearing the news, while also asking for news of her brother. 











Anne and George Boleyn, "Fallen in Love".


That very day, Henry Norris had also been imprisoned in the Tower. The king had, obviously, not believed Norris' adamant protestations of his innocence. The Imperial ambassador wrote to Emperor Charles V that Anne's brother, George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, "has also been lodged in the Tower, but more than six hours after the hours, and three or four before his sister". Kingston decided not to inform the hysterical Queen that her beloved brother was, in fact, imprisoned in the very same fortress as her. She would find that out soon enough.