1 September 1532

Patent granted to Anne Boleyn

On this day in history, 1st September 1532, Anne Boleyn became Marquis of Pembroke. She was the first woman who ever held a hereditary peerage title in her own right.

6 years had passed since Henry VIII fell in love with Anne Boleyn ; 6 long years of fighting for a divorce with Katherine of Aragon. Katherine was still officially Henry’s wife and Queen. But in Henry’s heart Katherine was replaced with Anne. Henry planned a meeting with Francis I, and he wanted to present Anne as his future wife and queen. But Anne Boleyn was a former lady-in-waiting of French king’s first wife Claude (who died in 1524) and she did not had a royal title. With granting her a title of Marquis of Pembroke in her own right, Henry VIII presented Anne Boleyn as a woman who deserves to become his new Queen.

‘This she was given at an impressive ceremony in Windsor Castle on the morning of Sunday, 1 September.52 There, her hair about her shoulders and her ermine-trimmed crimson velvet hardly visible under the jewels, Anne was conducted into the king’s presence by Garter King-at-Arms, with the countesses of Rutland and Derby, and her cousin Mary Howard, the duke of Richmond’s prospective wife, carrying the crimson velvet mantle and gold coronet of a marquis. Henry was flanked by the dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk and surrounded by the court, with the officers at arms in their tabards and La Pommeraye as a guest of honour. Anne kneeled to the king, while Stephen Gardiner read out a patent conferring on her in her own right and on her offspring the title of marquis of Pembroke. ‘[1]

The Marquessate was granted to Anne and her heirs male, but the patent did not include the usual provision that the said heirs male had to be of legitimate birth, thus enabling the title to pass to any illegitimate son Anne might have had.[2]

Scene from 'The Tudors'

‘Henry placed on her the mantle and the coronet and handed her the patent of nobility, plus another granting lands worth £1000 a year. Anne thanked him and withdrew, after which the king proceeded to St George’s Chapel and a solemn high mass sung by Gardiner. Henry and Francis (represented by La Pommeraye) swore to the terms of a treaty between England and France; Edward Fox preached a sermon extolling their intention to co-operate against the Turkish infidel, and announced the plan for the two to meet at Calais. The service ended with a magnificent Te Deum, with trumpets andorchestration, after which everyone returned to the castle for a great banquet.’ [3]

It was certainly a big day for Anne Boleyn – she was granted a first hereditary peerage title granted to a woman, so she was the most important woman in the whole kingdom, except the Queen of course. But Anne Boleyn and the whole court knew, that she was the Queen of England in everything but title. It was soon about to change – in January 1533 (some sources claim that it was on 14th November 1532) Anne and Henry married in a secret ceremony, in June she was coronated, and in September she gave birth to a future Queen of England – Elizabeth.


[1] Eric Ives, The life and death of Anne Boleyn, p. 158

[2] Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marquess_of_Pembroke

[3] Eric Ives, The life and death of Anne Boleyn, p. 159

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