Anne Boleyn’s badges and mottoes

We know that Anne Boleyn’s heraldic badge was a Falcon, but she had also other badges that she used before she adopted a falcon.

Let’s start with first one :

‘Within this inscription, between ‘je’ and ‘anne’, Anne inserted a small drawing; on close examination this turns out to be an armillary sphere. Evidently this was a device Anne adopted before switching to the falcon on the roses[1]  / Eric Ives, p.240/

What does armillary sphere mean? Professor Ives states that:

‘(…) at the end of the century the device was customarily interpreted as a symbol of constancy’. [2]/p. 244/

We can very easily match armillary sphere as a symbol of constancy with Anne Boleyn’s motto (adopted later by her daughter Elizbaeth) : ‘Semper eadem’, meaning ‘Always the same’. It looks like constancy was one of Anne Boleyn’s many qualities.

What is interesting, Elizabeth Tudor used armillary sphere throughout her reign.

‘One wonders whether those who commissioned paintings of Elizabeth wearing a celestial sphere, or her successive champions, Sir Henry Lee and the earl of Cumberland, who displayed it, recognized in it a covert reference to her mother.’ [3]

In 1529 Anne’s father, Thomas Boleyn, became Earl of Wiltshire and Ormond, and, as Retha M. Warnicke states in her book :

‘From his advancement to the earldoms, his children took Rochford as their last name and used as their badge the black lion rampant, as previous offspring of the earls of Ormond had done. ‘[4]

We can see the black lion of Rochford on a Psalter that was ordered by Anne between her father’s elevation in 1529 to an Earldom and her own promotion in 1532. [5]

Anne Boleyn's Psalter between 1529-1532. Notice the black lion rampant.

What about Anne’s motto between 1529 and 1532? Prof. Eric Ives wrote that;

‘As Christmas 1530 approached, she proclaimed her defiance by having the livery coats of her servants embroidered with a version of the arrogant motto she had learned from Margaret of Austria: Ainsi sera, groigne qui groigne‘Let them grumble, that is how it is going to be!’[6]

This motto was probably a response to all people who defied Anne’s position as a future queen and Henry’s wife. But the motto did not last long ; Chapuys explained that Anne immediately changed her new motto after she discovered an imperialist’s version of it ‘Groigne qui groigne et vive Bourgoigne’ ; but was it really the case, since Anne spent her childhood at the court of Margaret of Austria?

Antoher Anne’s badge was a leopard ;

‘The royal beasts in the Hampton Court gardens had to make room for a newcomer, a leopardAnne’s secondary badge, derived from the Brothertons – and a leopard was also set up on the hall roof.’ [7]

And finally Anne Boleyn had adopted a falcon as her badge ;

‘What appears then to have happened is that on her marriage, or in anticipation of its announcement, Anne had been granted or had adopted a badge of her own, a white falcon but this time alighting, and alighting on roses.’[8]

Anne Boleyn's Falcon badge

And what about Anne’s motto as a Queen? ‘The Most Happy’ (the orginal English version is ‘The Moost Happi’), but we don’t know why exactly did she adopt this motto. Perhaps it reflected her feelings since 1533 ; she married Henry VIII after almost 7 years of waiting, and she was already pregnant. So probably Anne felt ‘the most happy’ knowing, that she is with child and she is finally Queen of England.


[1] Eric Ives, The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, p. 240

[2] IBID, p. 244

[3] IBID, p. 244

[4] Retha M. Warnicke, The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn: Family Politics at the Court of Henry VIII

[5] Psalter was ordered from Paris or Rouen and was written in French.

[6] Eric Ives, The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, p. 141

[7] IBID, p. 249

[8] IBID, p. 221

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