A Princess is Born

A Princess is Born

On the 7th of September 1533 at approximately 3 o’clock in the afternoon Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII, gave birth to a baby girl at Greenwich. Perhaps Anne and Henry had decided that Anne should give birth at Greenwich as it had been the very place that Henry had been born forty two years previously. This was Anne’s first pregnancy and she had retired to her chambers only thirteen days before her daughter was born. It was customary of the time that a Queen should retire to her chambers several weeks before the believed due date so perhaps the doctors or Anne miscalculated the baby’s due date or the child was born early.

According to Starkey the chambers in which Anne Boleyn retired to deliver her child had ‘a false roof in the Queen’s Bedchamber for to seal it and hang it with cloth of arrars. They also constructed a cupboard of state… for the Queen’s plate to stand on in the Bedchamber, together with an alter, a platform and a stool where the Queen could sit during her devotions. Finally, they erected a great bed of state in her Presence Chamber, or Throne Room.’ (Starkey 2004 p. 505).

Anne Boleyn’s labour was reported to be without great difficulty and he little girl she bore had the facial features of her mother but her father’s classic Tudor red hair. Elizabeth was reported to be a strong and healthy baby and was probably named after both Henry and Anne’s mothers. Both Henry and the astrologers and physicians of the day had predicted that the child would be a boy – a prince and heir to continue on the Tudor dynasty, unfortunately the child had been a girl.

Letters that were to be dispatched to foreign dignitaries and King’s which had already been written up were quickly altered, from Prince to Princess. Also the celebratory jousts that had been scheduled to rejoice the birth of a son were cancelled. Yet despite this Elizabeth’s birth and the declaration of Henry VIII’s first legitimate child were celebrated and Te Deum was sung at the Chapel Royal.

It has often been reported that Henry was greatly disappointed at the birth of a daughter and it was right from this early stage that his and Anne Boleyn’s marriage began to crumble. This however is not exactly the truth. Certainly both Henry and Anne were disappointed but not as much as many believed. Elizabeth was strong and healthy and Anne fallen pregnant shortly after she began to sleep with Henry. Her pregnancy and labour were reported to be fairly easy (for the time that is) and there was still time and hope that Anne’s next pregnancy would be quick and this time she would deliver the son Henry VIII so desperately desired. It is also reported that when Henry went to visit Anne after the birth he told her that ‘You and I are both young… and by God’s grace, boys will follow’ (Weir 1991 p. 258). If indeed Henry said this I can only imagine how Anne must have felt.

Henry’s disappointment also cannot have been that great as before Elizabeth was even a year old he had ‘caused an Act of Succession to be passed in her favour, which made her his heir in place of Mary’ (Weir  2008 p. 6).  Mary being the daughter born to Henry’s first wife Catherine of Aragon.

Unfortunately despite the birth of a healthy daughter Anne Boleyn was still under pressure. She had achieved her desire to marry Henry and been crowned Queen of England but she still had to fulfil her role. It was believed of women at the time that it was not only their duty to serve their husbands but to give them healthy sons. Anne was under even more pressure as not only did she need to give her husband, the King a son, she needed to give England a healthy male heir.  If only she and Henry knew the powerful ruler that Elizabeth would grow up to be, reigning over England for forty four years in a time known as the ‘Golden Age’.


(Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn with baby “Elizabeth”)


Hu asdf Ives, E 2009, The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, Blackwell Publishing, Oxford.

Starkey, D 2004, Six Wives The Queens of Henry VIII, Vintage, London.

Weir, A 1991, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Grove Press, New York.

Weir, A 2008, The Children of Henry VIII, Ballantine Books, New York.

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MadeGlobal’s “An Evening with the Authors”


On the 24th of September of this year I will be in London attending the amazing event “An Evening with the Authors” presented by MadeGlobal. MadeGlobal are a wonderful publishing company who have published both of my books “Mary Boleyn in a Nutshell” and my recent book “Charles Brandon The King’s Man”.

An Evening with the Authors will be an incredible event which will give you the opportunity to meet and chat with nineteen authors and historians including Amy Licence, Claire Ridgway, Toni Mount, D.K. Wilson and of course myself! The event will also have three panels which will be a wonderful opportunity to ask questions about various aspects of Tudor history. I will be participating in one of the panels so please do come along and ask questions about the various affairs and secrets of the Tudor court!

As well as nineteen authors and historians there will be members from the Mary Rose Trust , Tudor music and  he opportunity to discuss your own book ideas!

“An Evening with the Authors” will be held at “The Venue” at Conferences Central, Malet Street. You can book your tickets online via MadeGlobal’s website.

Not able to come to London on the 24th? No worries! You can still attend the event from the comfort of your own home. The entire event will be broadcast via live stream on Youtube. If you participate via live stream you will have the opportunity to talk to the authors and ask them questions. It’s an amazing way to be part of the whole event without being there. If you are interested then please check out the MadeGlobal website here to book your online live streaming ticket.

“An Evening with the Authors” is going to be an amazing event and I hope to see you there!

An Evening with an Author

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Susan Higginbotham Book Tour Day 4

I am honoured to host Day Four of author Susan Higginbotham’s book tour for her new book “Margaret Pole: The Countess in the Tower”. Susan Higginbotham is a lawyer and author who currently resides in North Carolina, USA. She is the author of five successful historical fiction books set in Lancastrian and Tudor England. Susan is also the author of the non-fiction books ‘The Woodvilles: The Wars of the Roses and England’s Most Infamous Family’ and her latest book ‘Margaret Pole: The Countess in the Tower”. Susan has kindly written an article about Margaret Pole’s time as Governess to Mary Tudor…..

Margaret Pole The Countess in the Tower

 Royal Governess

Just two months after establishing his out-of-wedlock son Henry Fitzroy in the North, Henry sent Mary to the Welsh Marches, where the nine-year-old princess was to preside over the Council of Wales and the Marches. If not an explicit admission that Mary was to be Henry’s heir, it certainly sent that message: both Edward IV and Henry VII had sent their heirs, the ill-fated Edward V and Prince Arthur, to reside in the Marches once they passed through the earliest stages of childhood. Presiding over the princess’s household of over three hundred servants would be Margaret, alongside Mary’s steward, Lord Ferrers, and her chamberlain, Lord Dudley. With expenses totalling nearly £4,500 per year, Mary’s household was a splendid one.

As Edward IV had done when sending his heir to Wales, Henry VIII set out a detailed set of instructions regulating his daughter’s household at Ludlow. Margaret had the daunting task of overseeing ‘all such things as concern the person of the said princess, her noble education and training in all virtuous demeanor’. The women around the princess were to ‘use themselves sadly [decorously], honourably, virtuously and discreetly in words, countenance, gesture, behaviour and deed with humility, reverence, lowliness .  . . so as of them proceed no manner of example of evil or unfitting manner or conditions, but rather of good and godly behaviour’. No detail of the young princess’s day-to-day routine was left to chance. Mary was to learn Latin and French, to practice on her virginals and other musical instruments, to dance, to take exercise in the open air, and eat meat that was ‘pure, well-prepared, dressed and served, with comfortable, joyous, and merry communication in all honourable and virtuous manner’.

Our view of Mary is indelibly coloured by her grim adolescence, when she was caught between warring parents, by the burnings of hundreds of Protestants during her reign as queen, and by her sad last years, during which she suffered two false pregnancies and pined for an absent husband who took only a polite interest in her.  As a nine-year-old, however, she was lively, intelligent, and attractive, with an apparent gift for courtly banter. Giles Duwes, Mary’s former French tutor, writing after the household had disbanded, remembered an incident when Mary, following what the tradition of drawing Valentines, picked the name of her gout-stricken treasurer, Sir Ralph Egerton. Young Mary referred to the older man as her ‘husband adoptive’ and scolded him for taking better care of his gout than he did of his wife (i.e., Mary herself).  She then requested that Egerton teach her the full definition of love. In another incident recounted by Duwes, Mary scolded her almoner for not joining the household at dinner, reminding him that incidentally that she had praised his French and that he had assured her ‘within a year I should speak as good or better than you’.


Mario Savorgnano, a Venetian visitor, paid a call upon Mary’s household in August 1531, leaving us not only with a description of the princess, but of the Countess of Salisbury, her governess, as well. He wrote:

We next went to another palace, called Richmond, where the Princess, her daughter, resides; and having asked the maggiordomo for permission to see her, he spoke to the chamberlain, and then to the governess, and they made us wait. Then after seeing the palace we returned into a hall, and having entered a spacious chamber where there were some venerable old men with whom we discoursed, the Princess came forth accompanied by a noble lady advanced in years, who is her governess, and by six maids of honour. We kissed her hand, and she asked us how long we had been in England, and if we had seen their Majesties, her father and mother, and what we thought of the country; she then turned to her attendants, desiring them to treat us well, and withdrew into her chamber. This Princess is not very tall, has a pretty face, and is well proportioned with a very beautiful complexion, and is 15 years old. She speaks Spanish, French, and Latin, besides her own mother-English tongue, is well grounded in Greek, and understands Italian, but does not venture to speak it. She sings excellently, and plays on several instruments, so that she combines every accomplishment. We were then taken to a sumptuous repast, after which we returned to our lodging, whither, according to the fashion of the country, the Princess sent us a present of wine and ale (which last is another beverage of theirs), and white bread.

Savorgnano’s description of the attractive, courteous, and well-educated Mary did credit to both the countess and her charge. But all was not well in the well-run and hospitable household. It had not been in some time.


Mary Tudor

Thank you so much Susan! If you would like to learn more about Susan Higganbotham you can visit her Website or view her books on Amazon.

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The Death of Mary Tudor

The Death of Mary Tudor

Mary’s cause of death is unknown. It has been suggested that she may have suffered from angina. Mary had been ill for some time and several years earlier had complained of a constant pain in her side. Another suggestion for the reason for Mary’s death was the grief over her brother’s dismissal of Katherine of Aragon and marriage to Anne Boleyn. However it would seem that despite the current events of the time Mary still loved her brother as in she wrote him a letter in June shortly before her death stating she

“Has been very sick “and ele ates” (ill at ease). Has been fain to send for Master Peter the physician, but is rather worse than better. Trusts shortly to come to London with her husband. Is sure, if she tarries here, that she will never “asperre the sekenys.” Will be glad to see the King, as she has been a great while out of his sight, and hopes not to be so long again”. (Letters & Papers Vol. 6 693)

 As Dowager Queen of France and Duchess of Suffolk Mary Tudor’s funeral was a lavish affair. Her body was embalmed and for three weeks Mary’s coffin, draped in deep blue or black velvet, lay in estate at Westophe, candles burning day and night. On the 10th July Henry VIII ordered a Requiem Mass to be held for his sister at Westminster Abbey. A delegation was sent from France and joined the English delegation for Mary’s funeral on the 20th July 1533. Mary was to be interned at Bury St Edmunds and her chief mourner was her daughter Francis who was accompanied by her husband and her brother Henry, Earl of Lincoln. Also attending the funeral was Mary’s youngest daughter Eleanor and her ward Katherine Willoughby.

For the journey from Westrophe to the Abbey Church at Bury St Edmund’s, Mary’s coffin was placed upon a hearse draped in black velvet embroidered with Mary’s arms and her motto “the will of God is sufficient for me”. The coffin was covered in a pall of black cloth of gold and atop of this was an effigy of Mary wearing robes of estate, a crown and a golden sceptre which signified Mary’s status as Dowager Queen of France. The hearse was drawn by six horses wearing black cloth and the coffin was covered by a canopy carried by four of Brandon’s Knights. Surrounding the coffin standard bearers carried the alms of the Brandon and Tudor families.

At the head of the procession walked one hundred torch bearers who were comprised of members of the local community who were paid and dressed in black for the funeral. Next came members of the clergy who carried the cross. After them came the household staff followed by the six horses pulling the hearse. Behind the hearse followed the Knights and other noble men in attendance followed by one hundred of the Duke’s yeomen. Lastly came Mary’s daughter Francis, the chief mourner and the other ladies including Eleanor and Katherine Willoughby and Mary’s friends and relatives. Along the way the funeral procession was joined by other members of the local parishes.

At two o’clock on the afternoon Mary’s coffin was received at Bury St Edmund by the abbot and the monks. The coffin was then placed before the high alter and surrounded by the mourners in order of precedence and a mass was said. Afterward a supper was held for the noble members of Mary’s funeral entourage.

Overnight eight women, twelve men, thirty yeomen and some of the clergy were appointed to watch over Mary’s body. The next day a requiem mass was sung and Mary’s daughters, her two step daughters, her ward Katherine Willoughby and Katherine’s mother brought forward palls of cloth of gold to the alter. The funeral address was conducted by William Rugg and the officers of Mary’s household broke their white staffs and finally Mary was interned. Mary’s body lay at peace at Bury St Edmund until 1784; her remains were disturbed again when her altar monument was removed because it obstructed the approach to the rails of the communion table. Her resting place is now marked by a slab on the floor.



Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VIII, 1509-47, ed. J.S Brewer, James Gairdner and R.H Brodie, His Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1862-1932.

Loades, David 2012, Mary Rose, Amberley, Gloucestershire.

Sadlack, Erin 2001, The French Queen’s Letters, Palgrave Macmillan, New York.

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Catherine of Aragon’s Famous Speech

21st June 1529: Catherine of Aragon’s Famous Speech

On this day in history Queen Catherine of Aragon gave a passionate speech to her husband King Henry VIII at the Legatine Court at Blackfriars. The Legatine Court was set up to examine the validity of King Henry VIII’s marriage to Queen Catherine of Aragon. The court was presided over by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey from England and Cardinal Campeggio, the Popes representative from Rome. At the opening of the court Henry VIII declared his love for Catherine but also his concerns about the validity of their marriage as he felt he had disobeyed God by marrying his brother’s widow. When it came turn for Catherine to speak she did not stand and defend herself to the Court, instead she went to Henry and fell to her knees before him saying….

“Sir, I beseech you for all the love that hath been between us, and for the love of God, let me have justice. Take of me some pity and compassion, for I am a poor woman, and a stranger born out of your dominion. I have here no assured friends, and much less impartial counsel… 

Alas! Sir, wherein have I offended you, or what occasion of displeasure have I deserved?… I have been to you a true, humble and obedient wife, ever comfortable to your will and pleasure, that never said or did any thing to the contrary thereof, being always well pleased and contented with all things wherein you had any delight or dalliance, whether it were in little or much. I never grudged in word or countenance, or showed a visage or spark of discontent. I loved all those whom ye loved, only for your sake, whether I had cause or no, and whether they were my friends or enemies. This twenty years or more I have been your true wife and by me ye have had divers children, although it hath pleased God to call them out of this world, which hath been no default in me… 

When ye had me at first, I take God to my judge, I was a true maid, without touch of man. And whether it be true or no, I put it to your conscience. If there be any just cause by the law that ye can allege against me either of dishonesty or any other impediment to banish and put me from you, I am well content to depart to my great shame and dishonour. And if there be none, then here, I most lowly beseech you, let me remain in my former estate… Therefore, I most humbly require you, in the way of charity and for the love of God – who is the just judge – to spare me the extremity of this new court, until I may be advised what way and order my friends in Spain will advise me to take. And if ye will not extend to me so much impartial favour, your pleasure then be fulfilled, and to God I commit my cause!” (Ridgway 2012)

After her speech, instead of returning to her seat Queen Catherine of Aragon turned and left the court ignoring the calls for her to return. Apparently as she left Catherine stated that ““On, on, it makes no matter, for it is no impartial court for me, therefore I will not tarry. Go on.” (Ridgway 2012)

Catherine of Aragon Legatine Court

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A Queen is Crowned

A Queen is Crowned

1st June 1533

On this day in history Anne Boleyn was crowned Queen of England at Westminster Abby. Long years of waiting, frustration and a plethora of emotions had accumulated into this one magnificent event… Anne Boleyn was finally Queen!

June 1st 1533, Wit Sunday, at approximately 7am people began to gather at Westminster Hall and it was at a little before 9am that Anne Boleyn arrived. She was dressed in purple velvet coronation robes trimmed with ermine, her long dark hair cascaded down her back and she wore a coronet upon her head.

From Westminster Hall Anne Boleyn walked seven hundred yards upon deep blue carpet which lead right to the high alter within Westminster Abby. As she walked the canopy of cloth of gold from yesterday’s procession was carried over her head. Before her was carried the sceptre of gold and the rod of ivory topped by a dove and also the Earl of Oxford, the Lord Great Chamberlin, carrying the crown of St Edward. Behind Anne walked the Bishops of London and Winchester and the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk carried Anne’s long train. Behind these were her ladies and other noble women wearing scarlet clothing.

Within the Abby all of the great peers, Lords, judges and other noble men and officials gathered as well as four bishops, two archbishops and twelve abbots, all of whom were dressed in their finest clothing. Henry VIII watched the whole coronation hidden behind a lattice work screen. Truly this day was all about Anne Boleyn.

Upon entering Westminster Abby Anne proceeded to the choir where upon a dais two steps high was St Edward’s Chair draped in cloth of gold. Here Anne Boleyn sat for her coronation. The coronation consisted of the High Mass and then Anne moved to kneel before the alter. It was here that Archbishop Cranmer prayed over Anne Boleyn and then anointed her. Returning to St Edward’s Chair Anne Boleyn was crowned with St Edward’s Crown, the gold sceptre and rod of ivory. She was now, in the eyes of the Church and God, Queen of England.

After the Te Deum was sung St Edward’s Crown was exchanged for a lighter one, costumed and made uniquely for Anne. Next Anne took the sacrament and made an offering to the shrine of the saint.

With the coronation service finally over Anne and all of the nobles, churchmen, ladies etc. returned to Westminster Hall where a great feast was prepared. Anne withdrew to her chambers for a short time while all eight hundred guests were seated.

Anne Boleyn sat at the head of Westminster Hall at a great marble table which was set on a dais twelve steps up. She sat on the King’s great marble chair, with a more comfortable chair fitted inside. She sat under a cloth of estate. Standing by Anne was the Dowager Countess of Oxford and the Countess of Worcester who would hold up a cloth to hide Anne’s face if she wished to spit or touch her mouth. The only other person to share the table with Anne was the Archbishop of Canterbury, but he sat a good deal down to her right. Below Anne were four long tables where the great noblemen and woman and members of the church sat according to their rank. Anne’s husband Henry VIII and the French and Venetian Ambassadors sat in a special box which overlooked the high table. Truly Anne Boleyn was the centre of attention at this great event.

Charles Brandon, the Duke of Suffolk and high steward, was responsible for this great feast and for the event he wore a doublet and jacket which was covered with beautiful pearls. Throughout the feast he rode about on a horse which was covered with crimson velvet. In addition to the Duke of Suffolk, Lord William Howard also rode on a horse which was covered in purple velvet embroided with the Howard white lion. Lord Howard was in charge of serving the banquet.

The feast was a magnificent event and there were twenty eight dishes for the first course, twenty four dishes for the second course and thirty for the third course. It is unknown how much this magnificent event cost, but surely with such pomp, glamor and so many lavish dishes, Henry VIII must have spent a huge sum of money upon his new Queen.

At the end of the evening when Anne Boleyn left the great feast it is reported that she said “I thank you all for the honour ye have done to me this day” (Ives 2009, p. 181).

 Anne Boleyn Coronation Westminster


Hu asdf Ives, E 2009, The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, Blackwell Publishing, Oxford.

Starkey, D 2003, Six Wives The Queens of Henry VIII, Vintage, London.

Weir, A 1991, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Grove Press, New York.


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Anne Boleyn’s Coronation Procession

Anne Boleyn’s Coronation Procession

31st May 1533

At 5pm Anne Boleyn left the Tower of London and progressed through the streets of London towards Westminster Hall. She was supposed to leave the tower at 2pm but there were some delays in organising such a huge event and so many people.

First in the massive procession came twelve servants of the French ambassador, Jean de Dinteville, wearing blue velvet with yellow and blue sleeves. They had white plumes in their hats and they rode horses which had cloth of blue with white crosses. Next came the gentlemen of the Royal Household, walking two astride. Then came nine judges wearing scarlet gowns. Following them came the Knights of the Bath which had been newly created the previous night. Next came members of the government, church and other men of noble status including the Archbishop of York, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Venetian Ambassador, the French Ambassador, the Mayor of London, other bishops, earls and marquesses. Also in this group were William Howard who was the acting Deputy Marshal and Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk who was the acting Constable of England.

Following these noble men came Anne Boleyn herself. Anne wore a dress in the French fashion which was made of white cloth of gold and her hair was down and flowing over her shoulders. Upon her head she wore a coif and circlet which was set with very precious stones. She rode in a litter which was decorated also in white cloth of gold and pulled by two palfreys which were also covered in white demask. Covering the litter was a canopy of cloth of gold.

Behind Anne’s litter where was Lord Borough, Anne’s chamberlain and her master of horses, William Coffin. After these two men came Anne’s ladies, twelve which were dressed in crimson velvet (one of those ladies may have been Anne’s sister Mary.) Following these ladies were two carriages decorated in red cloth of gold which carried the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk and the Marchioness of Dorset and perhaps even Anne Boleyn’s mother. Then came many more of Anne’s ladies riding horseback.

It should be noted that several important people did not attend the coronation pageant including the Duchess of Norflk and Sir Thomas More. King Henry VIII’s younger sister Mary Tudor (wife of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk) also did not attend but it should be noted that she was extremely ill at the time and close to death.

There is some debate as to the reaction of the crowds to Anne Boleyn and her huge and impressive coronation procession. Some reports state that the crowds were hostile or at least silent, refusing to take off their caps. Another reports states that the people saw Henry and Anne’s HA motif and read it as “HA HA” and laughed at the future Queen. Yet other versions of the event state that the whole affair was magnificent with enormous crowds. Unfortunately we do not know the true thoughts and reactions of the people watching, but whatever it was surely the procession must have been quite spectacular!

On the way of the procession there were several pageants which included one of Apollo and the nine muses on Mount Parnassus which was designed by Hans Holebin himself. Another pageant was of a large stump in which white and red roses spilled. A white falcon (the bird on Anne Boleyn had taken on her badge) came down from heaven and landed on the stump. Then came an angel which wore armour came down and gave the falcon a crown. A third pageant was of St Anne surrounded by her children and at this poetry was read which spoke of England’s hope that the child Anne was carrying would be a son. Another pageant had angels giving crowns to Anne and a woman stating that when Anne Boleyn gave birth to a son there will be a golden world. There was also a fountain which followed with wine and children which read Anne poetry.

When Anne Boleyn finally arrived at Westminster Hall she was welcomed by King Henry VII and then had some light refreshments before thanking everyone and retiring to her chambers.

Anne Boleyn Coronation Procession


Ives, E 2009, The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, Blackwell Publishing, Oxford.

Ridgway, C 2012, ‘31st May 1533 – Anne Boleyn’s Coronation Procession’, viewed 31st May 2016, Available from internet < http://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/19003/31st-may-1533-anne-boleyns-coronation-procession/&gt;.

Weir, A 1991, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Grove Press, New York.


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