The coronation of Queen Anne Boleyn
Henry only provided coronations for his first two wives.
Katharine of Aragon shared his coronation in 1509; Anne's lavish ceremony took place on 29 May 1533. She would be executed almost exactly three years later.
The coronation was not a success, despite its expense. Anne was not popular. Insults were shouted; mocking laughter was heard. Anne was already two months pregnant with the future Queen Elizabeth I. This undoubtedly hastened her secret marriage and coronation. Henry VIII wanted no one to doubt the legitimacy of his son or the nobility of his parentage.
On Thursday 29 May, Lady Anne, marquess of Pembroke, was received as queen of England by all the lords of England. And the mayor and aldermen, with all the guilds of the City of London, went to Greenwich in their barges after the best fashion, with also a barge of bachelors of the mayor's guild richly hung with cloth of gold with a great number to wait on her. And so all the lords with the mayor and all the guilds of London brought her by water from Greenwich to the Tower of London, and there the king's grace received her as she landed, and then over a thousand guns were fired at the Tower, and others were fired at Limehouse, and on other ships lying in the Thames.
And on Saturday, the last day of May, she rode from the Tower of London through the City with a goodly company of lords, knights and gentlemen, with all the peers of the realm, richly appareled. She herself rode in a rich chariot covered with cloth of silver, and a rich canopy of cloth of silver borne over her head by the four Lords of the Ports, in gowns of scarlet, followed by four richly hung chariots of ladies; and also several other ladies and gentlewoman riding on horseback, all in gowns made of crimson velvet. And there were various pageant made on scaffolds in the city; and all the guilds were standing in their liveries, every one in order, the mayor and aldermen standing in Cheapside. And when she came before them the Recorder of London made a goodly presentation to her, and then the mayor gave her a purse of cloth of fold with a thousand marks of angel nobles in it, as a present from the whole of the city; and so the lords brought her to the palace of Westminster and left her there that night.
On 1 June Queen Anne was brought from Westminster Hall to St Peter's Abbey in procession, with all the monks of Westminster going in rich copes of gold, with thirteen mitred abbots; and after them all the king's chapel in rich copes with four bishops and two mitred archbishops, and all the lords going in their parliament robes, and the crown borne before her by the duke of Suffolk, and her two sceptres by two earls, and she herself going under a rich canopy of cloth of gold, dressed in a kirtle of crimson velvet decorated with ermine, and a robe of purple velvet decorated with ermine over that, and a rich coronet with a cap of pearls and stones on her head; and the old duchess of Norfolk carrying her train in a robe of scarlet with a coronet of gold on her cap, and Lord Burgh, the queen's Chamberlain, supporting the train in the middle.
After her followed ten ladies in robes of scarlet trimmed with ermine and round coronets of gold on their heads; and next after them all the queen's maids in gowns of scarlet edged with white Baltic fur. And so she was brought to St Peter's church at Westminster, and there set in her high royal seat, which was made on a high platform before the altar. And there she was anointed and crowned queen of England by the archbishop of Canterbury and the archbishop of York, and so sat, crowned, in her royal seat all through the mass, and she offered at the said mass. And when the mass was done they left, every man in his order, to Westminster Hall, she still going under the canopy, crowned, with two sceptres in her hands, my Lord Wiltshire her father, and Lord Talbot leading her, and so dined there; and there was made the most honourable feast that has been seen.
The great hall at Westminster was richly hung with rich cloth of Arras, and a table was set at the upper end of the hall, going up twelve steps, where the queen dined; and a rich cloth of estate hung over her head. There were also four other tables along the hall; and it was railed on every side, from the high dais in Westminster Hall to the platform in the church in the abbey.
And when she went to church to her coronation there was a striped blue cloth spread from the high dais of the king's bench to the high altar of Westminster on which she went.
And when the queen's Grace had washed her hands, then came the duke of Suffolk, high constable for that day and steward of the feast, riding on horseback, richly dressed and decorated, and with him, also riding on horseback, Lord William Howard as deputy for the duke of Norfolk in his office of marshall of England, and there came the queen's service followed by the archbishop's with a certain space between, which was all borne by knights; the archbishop sitting at the queen's board, at the end on her left hand. The earl of Sussex was sewer, earl of Essex carver, earl of Derby cup bearer, earl of Arundel butler, Viscount Lisle panter, and Lord Grey almoner.
The Thursday next before the Feast of Pentecost, the King and the Queen being at Greenwich, all the Crafts of London thereunto well appointed, in several barges decked after the most gorgeous and sumptuous manner, with divers pageants thereunto belonging, repaired and waited all together upon the Mayor of London; and so, well furnished, came all unto Greenwich, where they tarried and waited for the Queen's coming to her barge; which so done, they brought her unto the Tower, trumpets, shawms, and other divers instruments playing and making great melody, which, as is reported, was as comely done as never was like in any time nigh to our remembrance. And so her Grace came to the Tower on Thursday at night, about five of the clock, where also was such a peal of guns as hath not been heard the like a great while before. And the same night, and Friday all day, the King and Queen tarried there; and on Friday at night the King's Grace made eighteen knights of the Bath, whose creation was not only so strange to hear of, as also their garments stranger to behold or look upon; which said knights, the next day, which was Saturday, rode before the Queen's Grace throughout the City of London towards Westminster Palace, over and besides the most part of the nobles of the realm, which like accompanied her Grace throughout the said city; she sitting in her hair [i.e. her hair flowing down], upon a horse litter, richly apparelled, and four knights of the Five Ports bearing a canopy over her head. And after her came four rich chariots, one of them empty, and three other furnished with divers ancient old ladies; and after them came a great train of other ladies and gentlewomen; which said progress, from the beginning to the ending, extended half a mile in length by estimation or thereabout. To whom also, as she came along the City, were shewn many costly pageants, with divers other encomiums spoken of children to her; wine also running at certain conduits plenteously. And so proceeding throughout the streets, passed further unto Westminster Hall, where was a certain banquet prepared for her, which done, she was conveyed out of the back side of the Palace into a barge, and so unto York Place, where the King's Grace was before her coming, for this you must ever presuppose that his Grace came always before her secretly in a barge as well from Greenwich to the Tower as from the Tower to York Place.
Now then on the Sunday was the Coronation, which also was of such a manner.
In the morning there assembled with me at Westminster Church the Bishop of York, the Bishop of London, the Bishop of Winchester, the Bishop of Lincoln, the Bishop of Bath, and the Bishop of St. Asaph, the Abbot of Westminster with ten or eleven more Abbots, which all revestred ourselves in our pontificalibus, and, so furnished, with our Crosses and Croziers, proceeded out of the Abbey in a procession into Westminster Hall, where we received the Queen apparelled in a robe of purple velvet, and all the ladies and gentlewomen in robes and gowns of scarlet according to the manner used beforetime in such business; and so her Grace sustained of each side with two bishops, the Bishop of London and the Bishop of Winchester, came forth in procession unto the Church of Westminster, she in her hair, my Lord of Suffolk bearing before her the Crown, and two other Lords bearing also before her a sceptre and a white rod, and so entered up into the High Altar, where divers ceremonies used about her, I did set the Crown on her head, and then was sung Te Deum. And after that was sung a solemn Mass, all which while her Grace sat crowned upon a scaffold which was made between the High Altar and Choir in Westminster Church; which Mass and ceremonies done and finished, all the assembly of noblemen brought her into Westminster HaIl again, where was kept a great solemn feast all that day; the good order thereof were too long to write at this time to you.
But now, Sir, you may not imagine that this Coronation was before her marriage, for she was married much about St. Paul's Day last, as the condition thereof doth well appear by reason she is now somewhat big with child. Notwithstanding it hath been reported throughout a great part of the realm that I married her, which was plainly false, for I myself knew not thereof a fortnight after it was done. And many other things be reported of me, which be mere lies and tales.... '
Catherine was formally stripped of her title as Queen and Anne was consequently crowned queen consort on 1 June 1533 in a magnificent ceremony at Westminster Abbey with a sumptuous banquet afterwards. She was the last Queen Consort of England to be crowned separately from her husband. On the previous day, Anne had taken part in an elaborate procession through the streets of London seated in a litter of "white cloth of gold" that rested on two palfreys clothed to the ground in white damask, while the barons of the Cinque Ports held a canopy of cloth of gold over her head. In accordance with tradition, she wore white, and on her head a gold coronet beneath which her long dark hair hung down freely. The public's response to her appearance was lukewarm. Unlike any other queen consort, Anne was crowned with St. Edward's crown, which had previously been used to crown only a reigning monarch. Hunt suggests that this was done because Anne's pregnancy was visible by then and she was carrying the heir who was presumed to be male.
Meanwhile, the House of Commons had forbidden all appeals to Rome and exacted the penalties of praemunire against all who introduced papal bulls into England. It was only then that Pope Clement at last took the step of announcing a provisional sentence of excommunication against the King and Cranmer. He condemned the marriage to Anne, and in March 1534, he declared the marriage to Catherine legal and again ordered Henry to return to her. Henry now required his subjects to swear the oath attached to the First Succession Act, which effectively rejected papal authority in legal matters and recognised Anne Boleyn as queen. Those who refused, such as Sir Thomas More, who had resigned as Lord Chancellor, and John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, found themselves in the tower. In late 1534, parliament declared Henry "the only supreme head on earth of the Church of England". The Church of England was now under Henry’s control, not Rome's.
Preparations for the coronation began after the marriage of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon was pronounced invalid by Archbishop Cranmer on May 23rd 1533. The lavish celebrations which led up to Anne Boleyn’s coronation lasted an incredible four days and included a procession of barges, said to be 4 miles long, along the Thames from Greenwich to the Tower of London. The barge which carried Anne was dressed in luxurious gold cloth and as Anne disembarked 1,000 guns were fired from the Tower and other guns were fired from ships and the Limehouse.
rocessed through the city to Westminster by chariot. Craft guilds and merchants lined the streets, lines of constables controlled the crowd and the houses of Cheapside were decorated with gold cloth, velvet and tissue and Cornhill and Gracechurch Street were decorated with carpets, tapestries, arras and cloths of crimson and scarlet.
The procession was led by the French ambassador’s twelve servants, who were dressed in blue velvet with sleeves of yellow and blue, and with hats decorated with white plumes. They rode on horses decorated in blue sarcenet with white crosses. These men were followed by the gentlemen of the Royal households, nine judges, the Knights of Bath, the Royal Council and the rest of England’s government. Behind this long procession of dignitaries, came Anne Boleyn in her litter of white and gold. A canopy of gold cloth was held over her by the barons of the Cinque Ports and underneath this canopy was Anne, dressed in white and wearing a golden coronet. Anne’s ladies, dressed in crimson, followed the litter and many more carriages and riders followed behind.
At Cheapside, it is said that Anne was received by the Mayor, aldermen and the Recorder of London who gave her a thousand marks of angel nobles in a purse as a gift from the city. Although it has long been said that the crowd were hostile towards Anne, who was already around 6 months months pregnant and could be seen to be usurping Catherine of Aragon’s place, Eric Ives points out that it is hard to assess what people really thought.
On 1st June 1533, Whit Sunday, Anne Boleyn was crowned Queen at Westminster Abbey. Anne arrived at around 9am, dressed in her coronation robes of ermine trimmed purple velvet with a coronet of gold on her head. As she walked along a blue carpeted route between the hall and the abbey’s altar, the golden canopy from the day before was carried over her and the dove topped rod of ivory and golden sceptre were carried before her. The Lord Great Chamberlain, Earl of Oxford, carried the crown of St Edward, which had only ever been used to crown the reigning monarch. Behind Anne, the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk carried her train and the bishops of London and Winchester processed, along with scarlet clad ladies.
In front of the staff of the Chapel Royal, the abbey monks, the choir, the peers in parliamentary robes, the court and the scarlet clad Mayor, judges and aldermen, Anne rested momentarily in St Edward’s Chair, before prostrating herself before the altar while Archbishop Cranmer prayed over her. After being anointed by the archbishop, Anne sat in St Edward’s Chair where she was crowned by Cranmer and given the sceptre and rod. Anne was able to exchange her crown for a lighter one, after the Te Deum, and then she took the sacrament, gave an offering at the shrine of the saint, refreshed herself and then processed back into Westminster Hall, via the clock tower and the five cisterns in New Palace Yard which were running with wine! It is said that the King watched the proceedings from behind a lattice work screen.
An exhausted Queen Anne then had to sit through a lavish coronation banquet, accompanied at her table only by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Her husband, the King, sat in a special private purpose built box which allowed him to view the banquet with the ambassadors of Venice and France.
On Monday 2nd June, it is reported that there were celebration jousts, balls and further banqueting. It is not known exactly how much Henry VIII spent on Anne Boleyn’s coronation, but the Milanese Ambassador predicted that it cost the city of London around 200,000 ducats or £46,000 and that the king also paid around half that amount on top of that! Henry VIII was going seriously over the top to celebrate his new queen and the impending birth of what he thought would be a son and heir. You can see why he didn’t bother with a coronation for Jane Seymour!