The Queen’s House(1530s) Remaining Tudor architecture at the Tower of London
Henry VIII probably built the Queen’s House for his second Queen, Anne Boleyn, who was executed soon afterwards. Anne is said to have stayed there prior to her execution on nearby Tower Green, ironically imprisoned in the same lodgings that she stayed in before her coronation in 1533. Anne’s lodgings had become uninhabitable by the end of the sixteenth century and were demolished by the end of the eighteenth century. The present Queen’s House is not where Anne was imprisoned as these apartments were not built until around 1540, at least 4 years after Anne Boleyn’s execution.
The Queen’s House is one of the few such buildings to survive the Great Fire of London of 1666, and was spared because of its protected spot inside the Tower’s stone walls.
Brought up at the court of Henry VII, Charles Brandon soon became a favorite to Henry VIII, notably thanks to his talent at jousting, and one of his closest friends. He married in secret Mary Tudor, Henry’s little sister and then widow of Louis XII of France, in 1515. Although Henry was furious at first, he quickly forgave them, something that would not have happened later in his reign.
Following Cardinal Wolsey’s disgrace in 1529, Brandon’s influence grew daily. Despite being opposed to the marriage with Anne Boleyn, he remained on good terms with Henry VIII during the early 1530′s and thereafter enjoyed a position of influence at court until the end of his life.
Careful with his investment in court intrigues and a strong supporter of the king’s religious policies, Brandon had little enemies and was appreciated by most. It is a testament to the strength of their friendship that Henry, deeply grieved, buried him at his own expense at Windsor in St George’s Chapel in 1545 and noticed that Brandon had “never attempted to hurt an adversary, nor had he ever said a word to injure anyone”, which was more than many at court could say.
Christina of Denmark, Duchess of Milan by Hans Holbein the Younger, 1538, National Gallery, London
Holbein painted this portrait of Christina of Denmark, the young widowed Duchess of Milan, for Henry VIII of England, who was considering her as a possible wife. Thomas Cromwell sent Holbein to Brussels, accompanied by Philip Hoby, to draw the duchess, and she sat for him for three hours. John Hutton, the English representative in Brussels, wrote of the result that “Mr Haunce … hathe shoid hym self to be the master of that siens [science], for it is very perffight”. Henry was so delighted with Christina’s portrait that, according to the imperial ambassador Eustace Chapuys, “since he saw it he has been in much better humour than he ever was, making musicians play on their instruments all day long”. Holbein painted Christina’s portrait in oils shortly afterwards, and the work has been recognised as one of his finest. In the event, Henry never secured the wary duchess as his wife. “If I had two heads,” she said, “I would happily put one at the disposal of the King of England”.