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January 1535 : Banquet with French Admiral

While researching the events of 1535, I found a very interesting account. If you watched “The Tudors” you probably remember the scene from season 2 episode 6 when Anne Boleyn laughed hysterically as she saw how Henry pays attention to one of the court’s ladies. This incident really happened. Anne’s behavior almost caused a scandal when:

“The Admiral frowned, and said, “What, madam, do you laugh at me?” On which she excused herself by saying it was because the King had told her he was going to ask for the Admiral’s secretary to amuse her, and that the King had met on the way a lady who made him forget the matter. I don’t know if the excuse was accepted as satisfactory. The King, on the other hand, and the Lady were much disappointed that the Admiral showed no pleasure at any attention that was shown to him, even at the Tower of London and the Ordnance.”

In his book “The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn” Eric Ives dates this incident as early as 1 December 1533 (p. 196). In primary sources provided for this chapter, Professor Ives gave Cal. S. P. Span., 1534-35, p. 338 (LP, vii. 1507; ibid. p. 376 (LP, viii. 48).

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Anne Boleyn – the Glass of Fashion

“She was unrivalled in the gracefulness of her attire, and the fertility of her invention in devising new patterns, which were imitated by all the court belles, by whom she was regarded as the glass of fashion” / Nicolas Sander “The Rise and Growth of Anglican Schism”/

Although Nicolas Sander is the author of many myths about Anne Boleyn, he certainly was right when he described Anne Boleyn’s immaculate taste for fashion. Anne Boleyn  had olive skin and ‘black eyes’ – features not so popular in 16th century England where pale skin, blonde hair and blue eyes were the most desirable traits in a woman.

Nicolas Sander, who was no contemporary witness of Anne’s life at court, wrote that she had many deformations like projecting tooth, six fingers on right hand and a large wen under her chin. But the next sentences are describing Anne as;

“(…) handsome to look at, with a pretty mouth, amusing in her ways, playing well on the lute, and was a good dancer. She was the model and the mirror of those who were at court, for she was always -well dressed, and every day made some change in the fashion of her garments.” (Nicolas Sander “The Rise and Growth of Anglican Schism” p. 25).

Although for centuries historians are echoing the statement of Agnes Strickland that:

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How the mighty had fallen: Jane Boleyn and her role in fall of Anne and George Boleyn

"The Tudors"

On this day in history 13 February 1542 Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, widow of George Boleyn and former sister-in-law of ill-fated Queen Anne Boleyn, was executed along fifth wife of Henry VIII, teenage Catherine Howard.

Lady Rochford remains a mysterious and controversial historic figure. Through centuries she was perceived as a wicked wife who provided a false testimony against her husband and his sister. I must admit – Jane Boleyn is one of those historic characters that I feel especially drawn to. In today’s article I will take a closer look at Jane and her involvement in the Boleyn’s downfall.

My article is also a guest post on the blog On the Tudor Trail

 Who Jane Boleyn was?

She was born as Jane Parker, daughter of Henry Parker, 10th Baron Morley and Alice St John. Jane was related to King Henry VIII and therefore her family was politically active, respected and well-connected at the court. Jane’s date of birth remains unknown although the most probable date seems to be c. 1505.

Although no portrait of Jane survived, she was probably considered attractive in her times – she was chosen to play in prestigious “Château Vert” masque at Court in 1522, where also her future sisters-in-law (Anne and Mary Boleyn) played their parts. Jane played the role of Constancy, Anne Boleyn was Perseverance, Mary Boleyn was Kindness, and the King’s sister Mary Rose Tudor was Beauty.

Jane & the Boleyn family

The date of marriage between Jane Parker and George Boleyn is not recorded; according to Alison Weir they married ‘late in 1524’. They were both about the same age, young and attractive, members of prominent English families.

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“To the King from the Lady in the Tower”

Today I will answer a question asked by Areti from my Facebook Fanpage :

“I have a question about the letter that Anne is supposed to have written in the tower! Why can we not be sure if she really wrote it..? Can’t we recognise her style of writing?”

This letter was found among Thomas Cromwell’s papers and endorsed with the words:

“To the King from the Lady in the Tower”

“To the King from the Lady in the Tower”

The letter is not in Anne Boleyn’s handwriting, it was suggested that it is a copy of a lost original, or it was dictated by Anne. The letter was allegedly written on 6 May 1536.

Why this letter is considered by many as a forgery?

1. Anne Boleyn would never have written such a letter. She was blaming Henry VIII and his bad council as well as Jane Seymour for her imprisonment.  Elizabeth Norton states that ;

“On 6 May Anne still entertained some hopes that she would be allowed to retire to a nunnery and she would not have wished to jeopardise this”. (Elizabeth Norton, “Anne Boleyn in her own words &words of those who knew her”, p. 255)

 Would Anne Boleyn have risked the king’s wrath by writing a letter is such a reproving tone? She still had to consider her family’s wellbeing.

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Anne Boleyn’s pets

Today’s article will be about Anne Boleyn’s animals.

Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII on hunting, scene from The Tudors

Anne had favourite dog named Purkoy. She received him as a gift from Lady Honor Lisle,wife of the Governor of Calais  and became very fond af the animal. Unfortunately little Purkoy had an accident – he fell out of the window.  One of Anne’s ladies-in-waiting (presumably aslo her friend) Margery Horsman wrote to Lady Lisle :

”The queen’s grace setteth much store by a pretty dog, and her grace delighted so much in little Purkoy that after he was dead of a fall there durst nobody tell her grace of it, till it pleased theking’s highness to tell her grace of it.” / The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, Eric Ives, p. 213/

 Anne was so attached to her favourite dog that no one dared to tell her about the accident, but the king. In her book ‘Anne Boleyn: A New Life of England’s Tragic Queen’ Joanna Denny writes that little Purkoy’s death might not have been an accident ;

”It may be that this was no accident but warning to the Queen, as shown by Chapuys’ sinister description of the King and the Queen’s shock being ‘like dogs falling out of a window’. Such an incident could easily have brought on a miscarriage , which was perhaps the intention / p. 232/

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Anne Boleyn’s reaction on Catherine of Aragon’s death

Catherine of Aragon in 1530s, artist unknown

On 7  January 1536 Katherine of Aragon – first wife of Henry VIII and former queen of England – died on Kimbolton Castle. Some historians claim that Katherine’s death was the beggining of the end of Anne Boleyn – since she became one and only Queen of England and couldn’t bear male heir. But professor Eric Ives states that ;

”She had (Katherine) suddenly and somewhat unexpectedly gone downhill at the end of December, and her death was greeted at court by an outburst of relief and enthusiasm for the Boleyn marriage, which gives the lie to later historians who suggest that Anne was already living on borrowed time.” / p. 295 /

As long as Katherine of Aragon lived, Henry and Anne couldn’t enjoy their marriage in a proper way. There was still a reminder of the fact, that Henry had to sacrifice his kingdom for Anne Boleyn. With Katherine death new hopes arrived and both Henry and Anne were aware of it.

So how did Anne Boleyn react on her rival’s death? She received the news at Greenwich and she gave the messenger a ‘handsome present’. And what about Henry VIII? He said :

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3D reconstruction of Anne Boleyn’s face

This is a 3D reconstruction of Anne Boleyn's face, based on National Portrait Gallery

I’ve always wanted someone to do a 3D reconstruction of Anne Boleyn’s face, based on her famous NPG portrait. it never happened so I decided to become this ‘someone’. I learned how to use a program for 3D face reconstruction. This program gives a chance to make a 3D face reconstruction based on photographs. Well, obviously we do not have Anne Boleyn’s photographs so I used her portrait. It was quite hard to do such reconstruction. At my first reconstruction, many of you commented that Anne looked like Cher. I admit – I got too creative with first work. But my second reconstruction is successful – I worked on it for few days, and here it is!

I based Anne Boleyn’s 3D face reconstruction entirely on NPG portrait. It came out very realistic and reconstructed Anne looks a lot like on her portrait. What is even more interesting – I noticed that after reconstruction, Anne looks similar also to John Hoskins’ miniature, and this miniature is the most authentic likeness of Anne Boleyn.

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Affair of the necklace

Miniature of Anne Boleyn by John Hoskins

Thanks to my friend, Maria who runs her own blog about Anne Boleyn, she shared with me an article that states that the ‘B’ necklace on Anne’s portraits stands for ‘Brandon’ and not ‘Boleyn’. Quite an interesting theory, isn’t it? I’ve decided to research this theory and I found few informations.

In her book ”The Feminine Dynamic in English Art, 1485-1603”  Susan James states that famous portrait of Anne Boleyn showing her with ‘B’ pendant is Mary Tudor Brandon.  Susan James writes ,;

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La Peregrina – the pearl with history of nearly 500 years

Elizabeth Taylor wearing 'La Peregrina'

The “La Peregrina” pearl is one of the most famous pearls in the world with a recorded history of nearly 500 years. It is a large pear-shaped white nacreous pearl whose original weight was 223.8 grains (55.95 carats). In 1913 after the pearl was drilled, cleaned, and polished, it had a weight of 203.84 grains. The drilling was necessitated in order to secure it firmly to its setting, as the pearl was nearly lost on three different occasions after it had fallen off from its setting.

The pearl was found by an African slave on the coast of the isle of Santa Margarita in the Gulf of Panama in the mid-16th century. Some stories claim that the pearl was found in 1513, but at that time there were no African slaves on the islands. The pearl was given to Don Pedro de Temez, the administrator of the Spanish colony in Panama. The slave who found it was rewarded with freedom.

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14 November 1501&1532

The official surces claim that Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII married secretly in earl 1533 (25.01). It has been however suggested that they underwent two marriage ceremonies. Chrinolcer Edward Hall, who wrote during Henry VIII’s reign claimed that :

“The kyng, after his returne [from Calais] maried priuily[privily] the lady Anne Bulleyn on sainet Erkenwaldes daie, whiche mariage was kept so secrete, that very fewe knewe it, til she was greate with child, at Easter after”

Considering that Elizabeth was born in September 1533, she must have been conceived around December 1532 and it is not enitirely impossible that the couple decided to marry after succesful meeting with king Francis I in Calais.

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