The Political and Religious Influence of France on Anne Boleyn (Guest Post)

by Olivia Longueville

Anne Boleyn was one of the most controversial and captivating women of the Renaissance. For a time, she wielded a surprising level of influence over the volatile King Henry VIII, and her significance as the mother of one of England’s most important monarchs, Elizabeth I, cannot be denied.  This article explores how Anne’s education and experiences in the court of France during her formative years both enabled her to ascend to the heights of power while simultaneously setting the stage for her tragic death.
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The Unpopularity of Anne Boleyn

The Unpopularity of Anne Boleyn

Guest article by Samia Chebbah

Anne Boleyn
Possible Anne Boleyn

Not only did Anne Boleyn not fulfill her duty in delivering an heir to the throne of England but she was also unpopular in the country. In the eye of the population, ”she had made herself disliked by her haughty and arrogant manners”[1]. There seemed to be a reason why she did act that way since the king married her and even crowned her Queen of England. However, at her coronation organized by the king on June 1st, 1533, Henry VIII felt that his subjects were not ready to accept her as the new Queen of England. That was an issue since not only England was concerned with that second marriage but Europe was also preoccupied with what was prevailing in England at that time. Indeed, the authorities in Italy and Spain which had dispatched envoys in order to be informed with all the king of England’s moves. Actually, the Venetian Ambassador, Carlo Capello wrote on April 27th, 1533 regarding the upcoming coronation that Henry VIII had made it clear that ”by royal order, all the city crafts have been warned not to dare speak otherwise than well on this new marriage and Queen Anne, and to prepare the entertainments and expenditure usually made for the Queen’s coronation.”[2] The Spanish Ambassador Eustache Chapuys also wrote about it to the Roman Catholic Emperor Charles V on May 10th, 1533 that ”the King had issued orders for all the gentlemen to present themselves in due state at these festivals of Pentecost (Whitsuntide) to do honour to the coronation of his Lady”[3]. One can note that the Ambassador called Anne Boleyn ”the Lady” and not the Queen” as he was supposed to. The reason to that is that he was Catherine of Aragon’s supporter as well as her nephew’s envoy, the Emperor Charles V. In that respect, Chapuys could not recognize Anne Boleyn as the legitimate Queen of England.

If we believe the following statement, the coronation was not so grand as the reporter of the ceremony Wynkin De Worde made it out to be[4]. On the contrary, according to the Spanish Ambassador in his account to Charles V, the ceremony was ‘cold, poor, and most unpleasing sight to the great regret, annoyance and disappointment not only to the common people but likewise of all the rest”. In another letter supposedly written by him, he said that ‘though it was customary to kneel uncover and cry ”God save the King, God save the Queen” whenever they appeared in public, no one in London and the suburbs, not even women and children did so on that occasion”[5]. One question is to be raised here, if Henry VIII knew that Anne Boleyn was not popular in the eye of his subjects, why did he go through all that battle only to repudiate her three years ago? The issue of that second marriage proves that even though all the statements above seemed to have been made in order to protect Anne Boleyn, the king was only defending his choice.

Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn

As said above, Anne Boleyn, having been styled Queen of England started to take advantage of her elevation and acted like a Queen in her own right. In fact, she had been reported to be disrespectful to her uncle Thomas Howard, Third Duke of Norfolk who presided her trial in May 1536. He called her ”la grande putain”[6] earlier in January 1535 when she was reported using ”shameful words” when addressing her uncle. He must have been delighted to announce the verdict of her sentence, namely death. As far as Thomas Cromwell, who was Henry VIII’s closest adviser was concerned, she ironically “threatened to take off his head.”[7] when she was still Queen of England. At that time, she was unaware of her fate and she might have thought that since she was Queen, she could act like one and behave as she wanted. She had forgotten that she only was called Queen because of the king’s good will and that the only one deciding was Henry VIII as she, like everyone else, was a mere subject of the king. So it came to no surprise that suddenly, everyone in England, following the king’s mood, seemed to have turned against Anne Boleyn and the fact that she had no one on her side to defend her was made clear by the fact that “her overbearing manners had left her without a friend” and that “a long catalogue of misdeeds had been registered, with dates[…] by the ladies of the household, as soon as it should become safe to speak.”[8] Did the king ask for all those notifications to be written in case he wanted to get rid off his new wife? It is possible, especially because that report suggested that Anne Boleyn was not a beloved queen but that as I said it was not safe to speak against her because the king had demanded it. The quote also suggested that she was under the supervision of her ladies-in-waiting even though she was, married to the King and, as a matter of fact, Queen of England. As said above, she was Henry VIII’s choice and the king required that everyone should respect her under penalty of sanctions when he married her, which left no choice to his subjects but to approve his marriage. When Anne Boleyn was not influential at Court anymore, Henry VIII’s threats regarding his subjects’ behaviour towards his wife were not topical anymore. On the contrary, everyone and everything that could make her a culprit were good for the king’s satisfaction. As we all know, Anne was beheaded on May 19th, 1536 and the next day, Henry was betrothed to Jane Seymour.[9] No wonder why Henry VIII needed to get rid of Anne Boleyn no matter what.


[1]James Anthony Froude, The Divorce of Catherine of Aragon; the Story as told by the Imperial Ambassadors Resident at the Court of Henry VIII (Tennesse: General Books, 1891 Reprinted 2010) 192.
[2]Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 4 part 2: 1531-1533.
[3]Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 4 part 2:1531-1533.
[4] De Worde,Wynkyn.The Maner and the tryumph of Caleys and Bullen and The Noble Tryumphant Coronacyon of Quene Anne, Wyfe unto the Most Noble Kynge Henry VIII.Original Date: 1532-1533.Reprinted in 1884.Edinburgh:Edmund Goldsmid,1884
[5] Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 6, 1533.
[6]Letters ans Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 8: January-July 1535.
[7]James Anthony Froude, The Divorce of Catherine of Aragon; the Story as told by the Imperial Ambassadors Resident at the Court of Henry VIII (Tennesse: General Books, 1891, reprinted 2010) 85.
[8]James Anthony Froude, The Divorce of Catherine of Aragon; the Story as told by the Imperial Ambassadors Resident at the Court of Henry VIII (Tennesse: General Books, 1891, reprinted 2010) 200.

About the Author: Samia Chebbah

SnHLuCicI live in France and french is my mother tongue. I am in love with the History ofEngland ! Whenever I go there, visiting castles is my top priority ! My favourite period is the endof the Middle Ages and the beginning of the Renaissance. So it came as no surprise that when Ihad to decide the dissertation topic for my Masters Degree, theEnglishmonarchy was my firstchoice. And so I talked about the ennoblement of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIIIs race forsupremacy. I am very curious and always have to make some researches when I learn about a newhistorical event! I have found it to be very enriching to do so because it always leads to anotherfact. This is the magic of history I guess!

A War of Words Letters From Henry VIII’s War in Flanders

Guest article written by: Richard Anderton

In the summer of 1513 Henry VIII found himself besieging the small, but heavily fortified, town of Throuanne in Northern France. In the early years of his reign, Henrys overriding ambition was to add the crown of France to the crown of England won by his father (at the Battle of Bosworth) and he based his claim on the fact that his great-grandmother had been the French princess Catherine of Valois (daughter of the French king defeated at Agincourt and widow of the victorious Henry V).

To strengthen this highly dubious link to the French monarchy, Henry joined Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian and Spanish King Ferdinand in their alliance against the French King Louis XII, something facilitated by Henrys marriage to the Spanish princess Catherine of Aragon in 1509. On June 30th 1513 Henry arrived in Calais, all that was left of Medieval Englands once vast empire in France, at the head of 30,000 men and at the request of Emperor Maximilian he laid siege to Throuanne.

Roman Emperor Maximilian
Ferdinand of Aragon

Henry had left his queen to rule England in his absence and Catherines letters suggest that she had a genuine affection for her husband. Writing to the imperial court on August 1st 1513, Catherine asks Margaret of Savoy (the emperors daughter and governor of Flanders in her own fathers absence) to send her best physician to tend Henry. She also writes to Henrys almoner Thomas Wolsey (the future cardinal and Lord Chancellor) urging him to keep the king safe.

Catherine to Wolsey:

we are glad to hear the King passes so well [in] his dangerous passage, and trusts he will always have the best of his enemies [but we are] troubled to hear the King was so near the siege of Terouenne [sic]

Wolsey to Catherine:

be assured of the good heed he takes to avoid all manner dangers. With his health and life nothing can come amiss to him

Catherine is greatly relieved to hear this, especially as she has troubles of her own. The French king Louis XII has invoked the Auld Alliance with Scotland and paid the Scottish King James IV 50,000 florins to open a second front by invading England from the north. On August 13th Catherine writes:

we are all very glad to be busy with the Scots my heart is very good to it, and I am horribly busy with making standards, banners, and badges. Pray send word whether ye received the letters that I sent unto you [to deliver] to the King [of Spain] my father, and what answer he gave you to it.”

Henry Meeting Maximilian
The Meeting of Henry VIII and the Emperor Maximilian I ; Royal Collection Trust/ Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

With Catherine keeping the Scottish situation under control, Henry began to enjoy life on campaign. The contemporary chronicler Edward Hall records that Henry had for himself a house of timber with a chimney of iron and on August 13th he met with his ally Maximilian. The two men spent several days feasting but whilst the old emperor urged caution the hot headed English king (who was just 22 years old) was eager for battle. A letter written by the imperial emissary Paul Armestorff, again to Margaret of Savoy, declares:

Though the Emperor, experienced in war, makes many difficulties about assaulting Throuanne, the King of England desires to head the attack, promising to make sufficient breaches in three days. It is hard to keep them back

Indeed the siege was reaching a critical phase and the imminent arrival of a French relief force, which included the Yorkist pretender Richard de la Pole at the head of 6,000 battle-hardened landsknecht mercenaries, threatened to break Henrys stranglehold on the town. On the eve of battle, the French commander felt so confident he sent letters to the Doge of Venice, Frances ally, promising a swift and decisive victory:

The English are about to retire and there is no doubt that the King [of France]will have the victory because Therouenne [sic] holds out and is well victualled The King of Scotland is to invade England today. He has sent 24 ships to help France and will invade with 60,000 men

On August 16th, in preparation for the final assault, the French planned to resupply the beleaguered town by sending a party of 800 stradiots (Albanian light cavalry), with sides of bacon and bags of corn tied to their saddles, through the English lines whilst the French infantry and heavy cavalry created a diversion. However a party of English prickers (English light cavalry from the rugged Anglo-Scottish border country) discovered the French army drawn up in battle formation. We know what happened next because a letter written by Henry to Margaret of Savoy has survived:

Yesterday morning news came that all the French horse were moving, some toward Gynegate, the others to the place where Lord Talbot was stationed before Terouenne to cut off supplies. A skirmish took place and there were taken on his side 44 men and 22 wounded. The French, thinking that the English were still beyond the [River] Lys, considered they would not be in time to prevent them re-victualling the town. The English horse however confronted the French, who were three times their number. Several encounters took place and men were wounded on both sides. After this, in the Emperor’s company, advanced straight against the French, causing the artillery to be fired at them, whereupon they [the French] immediately began to retire, and were pursued for 10 leagues without great loss to the English. Nine or ten standards were taken and many prisoners

Henry R – at the camp at Gynegate, before Terouenne, August 17th 1513

Ten leagues is about 30 miles and chroniclers on both sides immediately dubbed this skirmish The Battle of the Spurs because of the speed of the French retreat!

Batle of the Spurs
The Battle of the Spurs; Royal Collection Trust/ Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

Thought the fighting barely merited the title battle the French rout at Throuanne, combined with the Scottish defeat at Flodden a few weeks later, did mark a turning point in the war. Louis sued for peace and a condition of the truce was that the French king withdraw his support for Richard de la Poles planned invasion of England. The Yorkist rebel was banished to Metz (then a free city in the Holy Roman Empire) but his exile did nothing to curb the ambitions of the last White Rose. Richard was soon plotting to overthrow the hated Tudors but that is another story…



About the Author

T5015107 Richard Anderson with his first novel The Devil's Band The Devilstone Chronicles Book 1

Richard Anderton is the author of The Devils Band, an historical novel which uses the final attempt of Richard de la Pole to depose Henry VIII and restore the House of York as it setting. The Devils Band is available in paperback and eBook through Amazon and you can find his author page at:





Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales

Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales
Guest Article by Susan Abernethy
Website: The Freelance History Writer

Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales, c. 1501

Henry Tudors Lancastrian claim to the throne of England was weak at best. In August of 1485, he defeated the Yorkist King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field and established the Tudor dynasty as King Henry VII. To cement his claim he married the eldest daughter of King Edward IV,Elizabeth of York. They were to have four children who survived infancy.

Arthur Tudor was born shortly after midnight on September 20, 1486, just eight months after his parents marriage. King Henry was optimistic and insisted his son be born at Winchester, the legendary capital of King Arthurs Camelot. Henry also required the child be named Arthur anticipating his reign and dynasty would bring back the golden age of the legendary king. Arthurs christening took place atWinchester Cathedral. The baptism rites followed the etiquette observed for all of King Edward IVs ten children. He was christened in front of the entire congregation, including the remaining members of the Yorkist nobility and their wives. His principal godmother was his maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Woodville.

When Arthur was three years old, he was made a Knight of the Garter and invested as Prince of Wales. In 1492, it was decided he would be sent to the castle of Ludlow where he had his own council and household. He was being prepared for the difficult duties of kingship. His tutors were John Rede and the blind Bernard Andr, who believed his student to be an excellent classical scholar. Arthur grew up to be studious and reserved. While at Ludlow, Arthur participated in the governing of Wales.

Young Arthur Tudor

King Henry was doing everything in his power to bolster the legitimacy of his reign. When Arthur was two years old, he began negotiating a marriage with one of the daughters of King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile. Eventually their youngest daughterCatherinewas chosen. This alliance worked in favor of both parties. For Spain, the relationship kept England from allying with their mortal enemy, France. For King Henry, it gave strong recognition to the infant Tudor dynasty. There was an initial agreement of the betrothal in 1489.

Ferdinand and Isabella wanted to be sure King Henrys position was secure before they sent their daughter to England. There was a formal betrothal ceremony at Woodstock in August of 1497. But it wasnt until King Henry executed the Yorkist pretenders to the throne, includingPerkin Warbeckin 1499 that they were satisfied it was safe for Catherine to leave Spain. A proxy marriage took place at Arthurs manor at Bewdley on May 19, 1499. Arthur declared to the Spanish ambassador that he rejoiced in the marriage and professed his sincere love for Catherine, all according to the custom of the time.

There are two completed love letters Arthur wrote to Catherine and one draft, all of which were written in October and November of 1499. They are affectionate but more than likely they were dictated by his tutors. The letters were written in Latin and Catherine did respond.

Catherine of Aragon, Prince Arthur Tudor's wife

Catherine finally left Spain in the autumn of 1501. In early November, King Henry set out to meet Catherine at Dogmersfield, about ten miles from London Bridge. He was joined by Arthur who headed a column of magnificently dressed noblemen. When they arrived on November 4, they were intercepted by members of Catherines household who insisted it was Castilian custom the bride not speak with the King or meet her bridegroom before the wedding day. The King held a council in the field, on horseback and a decision was made. Because Catherine was betrothed to Arthur, she was an English subject and Castilian law and custom did not apply. Catherines servants did all they could to prevent the King from seeing her but eventually they had to give in. Catherine shocked her servants even further when she agreed to meet Arthur. They spoke in a mixture of Spanish and Latin with an English bishop acting as interpreter.

Arthur and his father returned to Richmond and then made their way to Baynards Castle which was well-located toSt. Pauls Cathedral. The city was bedecked incelebration of the wedding. On November 14, Arthur awaited his bride dressed in white satin at the altar of St. Pauls. The nuptials were celebrated, the trumpets blared and the bells of the city rang. There was a wedding feast that lasted until early evening. Then the formal bedding ceremony commenced.

The Earl of Oxford led the way to the bedchamber where he tried out the bed himself first on both sides. The Prince entered the bed followed by Princess Catherine. The bishops blessed the bed and the couple and they were left alone. The gentlemen of Arthurs suite were to recall later that Arthur arose from bed the next morning appearing triumphant, requesting a drink and swearing he had been in Spain for the night. This scene was to have thunderous consequences for Princess Catherine later in her life.

The wedding celebrations lasted for days. A tournament was held at Westminster. Arthur arrived in a mobile pavilion painted in stripes of the Tudor colors of green and white. It was a spectacular pageant. Then the court dances began and Arthur danced with his mothers sister Cecily. Another banquet was held in the Parliament Chamber and there was an even greater spectacle of pageantry. Eventually the celebrations came to an end and the court returned to Windsor.

It was decided the Prince and Princess were to return to Wales. Catherine had to say farewell to many of her retinue. On December 21, 1501, Arthur and Catherine set out for Arthurs manor house at Bewdley in Worcestershire which had been turned into a small palace. The couple stayed there a short time and then traveled to Ludlow. Arthur returned to his work with his council which was headed by its new Lord President, Dr. William Smyth, Bishop of Lincoln. Arthur was also attended by his Chamberlain Sir Richard Pole. Late in March, both Arthur and Catherine were laid low by a virus and were very ill.

Remains of Ludlow Castle

On April 4, 1502, a messenger arrived at Greenwich Palace near London. He informed the privy councilors of the reason for his visit. The council decided to call in King Henrys confessor to speak with the King. The friar knocked on the door of the Kings chamber, was admitted and asked all to leave the room. He informed the King that Arthur had died on April 2, the cause being thesweating sickness.

The King was shocked and immediately sent for Queen Elizabeth. She saw her husbands grief and did her best to comfort him. She reminded him that he was the only child of his mother and they had their son Henry and their daughtersMargaretandMary. She also reminded him they were still young and could have more children. She felt they needed to accept their misfortune. Henry thanked her for her words and Elizabeth returned to her apartments. Once Elizabeth was with her women, she broke down, weeping in the deepest grief. Her ladies called for the King to comfort her. He arrived and did his best to soothe her reminding her of her own brave words to him before.

Arthurs body was embalmed at Ludlow and put in a wooden coffin and lay in state until April 23. The town was too small to accommodate a large funeral. The coffin was taken in a procession from the castle to the parish church where three masses were heard. The funeral ceremonies lasted for days. The body was then taken to Bewdley and then finally rested atWorcester Cathedral. More ceremonies were held. Heralds delivered Arthurs helmet, shield, sword and embroidered coat of arms, all according to chivalric custom. When all these ceremonies were completed and mass was over, the coffin was taken to the south end of the high altar where a grave had been prepared. The Bishop of Lincoln, weeping, threw earth into the grave and sprinkled it with holy water. The Comptroller of the Princes household and others broke their staffs and threw them into the grave. Arthurs parents did not attend the funeral and Catherine was still too ill to attend.

There has been speculation on what exactly caused Arthurs death. Sweating sickness was used to describe anything causing a high fever from pneumonia to tuberculosis. One of the symptoms of tuberculosis is night sweats. Other diseases mentioned have been diabetes, cancer and consumption, the euphemism for tuberculosis at the time. The best description of his death hints he died of some malignant disease.

The cause of death could have had an influence on Arthurs ability to have children. There is a possibility of testicular tuberculosis which then spread to his lungs. Another explanation could be a testicular tumor that spread to the lungs. Arthur may have suffered from one of these conditions before he finally succumbed to actual pneumonia, influenza or sweating sickness. Catherine was also very sick but she managed to survive. She would remain at court in complete penury until King Henry VII died in 1509. She then married Arthurs brother, the new king, Henry VIII.

Further reading: Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales by Steven Gunn, The Sisters of Henry VIII by Maria Perry, The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir, The Tudors: The Complete Story of Englands Most Notorious Dynasty by G.J. Meyer

About the Author:

purple-susanSusan Abernethy here. It seems I cant remember a time when I didnt love history. At the age of fourteen, I watched The Six Wives of Henry VIII on TV and was enthralled. Truth seemed much more strange than fiction. I started reading about Henry VIII and then branched out into many types of history. This even led me to study history in college. Even though I never did anything with the history degree, its always been a hobby of mine. I started this blog to write about my thoughts on all kinds of history from Ancient times to mid-20th Century.