art-counterclockwise asked:

Did Anne Boleyn secretly marry Henry Percy? Could she do that? It’s been on my mind since I read your long post about Anne not being a whore.

Did Anne Boleyn secretly marry Henry Percy?

The problem is that we don’t have detailed contemporary records that can give us insight into Anne’s relationship with Henry Percy. 

The only source covering the love story of Percy and Anne is George Cavendish’s biography of Cardinal Wolsey, who wrote about a secret love between the two young men who were eager to join their lives in holy matrimony.

According to Cavendish, Henry Percy was head over heels in love with Anne Boleyn, and he started courting Anne in secret. Their affection was growing, and they intended to marry and were secretly betrothed

But Percy’s parents opposed the marriage, having on their minds a different wife for their son and heir, coming from a family of a higher social standing. Percy’s father even threatened to disinherit his son if he didn’t give up the idea of marrying Anne.

Soon Wolsey told Henry Percy that the King of England would find not only more suitable but also a far better match for him. Percy fiercely defended his right to choose a wife for himself and proclaimed Anne’s suitability for the marriage; he begged the Cardinal to intervene with the king to let him marry Anne, but everything was in vain. In the end, Anne was sent away from the court to the Hever Castle, while Percy retired to his family estates.

To make Anne and Henry’s secret matrimony completely impossible, Henry Percy was quickly married off to Lady Mary Talbot, the daughter of the Earl of Shrewsbury, in 1525. Unfortunately, that marriage never was a happy one.

In her book “Early loves of Anne Boleyn”, Josephine Wilkinson writes about Henry Percy’s marriage: “The truth of the matter was, quite simply, that Lord Percy and his wife hated each other and had done so from the moment they had set eyes on each other. Indeed, the marriage seemed doomed even before it had begun.”

Henry Percy succeeded his father as the 6th Earl of Northumberland in 1527. After Mary delivered a stillborn child at her father’s home in April 1529, temporary separation followed. Perhaps, the death of their child irreparably damaged their marriage. Simultaneously with disintegration of his marriage to Mary Talbot, Percy’s health began to deteriorate.

Cavendish suggested that Henry VIII himself was already interested in Anne and told Wolsey to put a stop to the marriage. But the king became seriously and ardently interested in Anne only in 1526, and it is possible that Henry was having an affair with Mary Boleyn at that time.

Was there a pre-contract between Anne Boleyn and Henry Percy?

According to Josephine Wilkinson, Henry Percy and Mary Talbot often hand hot arguments. Once, Percy declared that “he was not really her husband because, long ago, he and Anne had been pre-contracted to each other”. Did he say that in an outburst of anger, or was it a confession?

In 1532, Mary wrote about Percy’s confession in a letter to Thomas Howard, the Duke of Norfolk, who gave this letter to Anne, who in turn gave it to Henry VIII. Mary Talbot’s motives are obvious – she wanted to find the way out of her loveless marriage to Percy. As a result, Henry Percy was summoned to the court and swore the oath that he had never been pre-contracted to Anne Boleyn; Anne also swore the same oath.

Being unhappy in his marriage, Percy could have wanted to use a chance to get rid of his unwanted wife, but he didn’t do that because there were no reasons for divorce. Alternatively, Percy could have lied, knowing that the king wanted to marry Anne and not wishing to stand between Anne and her queenship – wishing to save Anne from the king’s wrath.

If Percy lied, then Anne also lied because she wanted to be the Queen of England and was only in a step from having the crown. We just don’t know what Anne and Percy were really thinking and doing.

Several years later, in the tragic days of Anne Boleyn’s downfall, Thomas Cromwell revived the investigation into the matter of the alleged pre-contact between Percy and Anne. Cromwell wanted to use the pre-contract as a ground for the annulment of the king’s marriage to Anne annulled. The chief minister sent to Percy his trusted man, Sir Reynold Carnaby, to extract confession, but his efforts proved nothing.

Henry Percy wrote to Thomas Cromwell about the pre-contract: “I perceive by Raynold Carnaby that there is supposed a pre-contract between the Queen and me; whereupon I was not only heretofore examined upon my oath before the archbishops of Canterbury and York, but also received the blessed sacrament upon the same before the duke of Norfolk and other the King’s highness’ council learned in the spiritual law, assuring you, Mr. Secretary, by the said oath and blessed body, which afore I received and hereafter intend to receive, that the same may be to my damnation if ever there were any contract or promise of marriage between her and me.”

Anne’s marriage to Henry VIII was annulled in a couple of days before her execution. In the decree, no certain grounds for the annulment are mentioned: there is only reference to “certain just true, and lawful impediments, unknown at the making". Such an abstract statement! One can say that it may refer to Henry Percy or to anything/anybody else!

I don’t think that the pre-contract between Anne Boleyn and Henry Percy existed. I believe that there was only a romantic love between them and that their relationship remained unconsummated.


www.theanneboleynfiles.com, Anne Boleyn files

Life and death of Anne Boleyn, Eric Eves

“Early loves of Anne Boleyn”, Josephine Wilkinson

Longthorpe Tower
Cambridgeshire, England by uplandswolf

Dating back to the early 13th century, Longthorpe Tower is a three-story tower house. Once home to Robert Thorpe – a local man who achieved moderate wealth through his connections at neighbouring Peterborough Abbey – Longthrope is perhaps most famous for its English medieval wall paintings.


Arundel Castle - Sussex - United Kingdom.

Arundel Castle, located close to the South Downs in some of England’s most beautiful countryside, was established at the time of the Norman conquest, but on what may have been earlier foundations. It has been home to the dukes of Norfolk since the 1500’s.

Three ghosts are said to haunt the castle, the first being that of a man seen in the library. The second is of a young girl, who committed suicide by jumping from the Hiorne Tower, while the third haunts the servants’ quarters. The latter was seen in 1958 by a trainee footman, who saw only the head and shoulders of a youngish man wearing a loose-sleeved tunic.

Black Tudors in Doctor Who
Back in 2013, I was compelled to blog when Tim Bevan, producer of the 1998 film Elizabeth, told Juliet Gardiner on Radio 4 that if a black actor had been cast “in our Elizabeth movie, you wouldn't have been able to prove that, at all.” As regular readers will know, there is indeed proof.

But despite evidence of some 200 Africans living in Tudor England, from Hull to Truro, we do not find it represented in popular presentations of the period, such as Elizabeth, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, The Tudors, The Other Boleyn Girl, Wolf Hall, to name but a few.

Strangely enough, a better representation comes from an unexpected source: a 2007 episode of Doctor Who!
The Shakespeare Code starred David Tennant as the Doctor, and Freema Agyeman as his companion Martha Jones. Agyeman is half Iranian and half Ghanaian, and this meant the writer, Gareth Roberts, had to consider how this would play out when she time travels to Elizabethan England. When Martha realises she has just arrived in London in 1599, she has the following exchange with the Doctor:

Oh, but hold on. Am I all right?  I’m not gonna get carted off as a slave, am I?

Why would they do that?

Not exactly white, in case you haven’t noticed.

I’m not even human. Just walk about like you own the place.  Works for me. Besides, you’d be surprised. Elizabethan England, not so different from your time.  

At this point, two African women walk past them. In a few moments, this scene makes two important points:

1) There was a black presence in Elizabethan London
2) The Africans in Elizabethan London were not treated as slaves

Read More at MirandaKaufmann.com

I’m writing a story set in 1387 England, and I’m looking for some resources on clothing, especially for one character, who is a Muslim merchant/ sellsword. Can you direct me to some, please? You seem to be the best person to talk to about this.

Well, if you want to be detailed in your description, you’ll have to also be specific in considering his backstory and characterization. Several people have recommended this book:

The Moors: The Islamic West 7th-15th Centuries A.D. (Men At Arms)

Not everyone can afford reference books though, so here’s the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History for various Islamic Arms and Armor.

These might also help:

Check out the Wikipedia page on “Islam in England (Middle Ages)”, see if any of the resources at the bottom seem relevant to what you’re looking for.

There’s also:

Alexander, D. G. “Two Aspects of Islamic Arms and Armor: I. The Turban Helmet and II. Watered Steel and the Waters of Paradise.” Metropolitan Museum Journal, Vol. 18 (1983). [click this-opens as PDF]

Pyhrr, Stuart W. “European Armor from the Imperial Ottoman Arsenal.” Metropolitan Museum Journal, Vol. 24 (1989) [click this-opens as PDF]


Last week, I visited the beautiful gardens at Nymans, a National Trust spot in the West Sussex countryside that has stood as an inspiration to landscape artists since the late 19th century. I took some photos with my brand new iPhone - getting a little carried away in the rose garden - and saw my old life-drawing teacher painting in the outdoor studio. Afternoon tea in the cafe rounded off a very English afternoon. No breaking of cultural stereotypes here.

Historical Diagram: Piccadilly Circus Tube Station by Renzo Picasso, 1929

We all know that I love a good cutaway diagram, and this example – drawn by Italian architect and urban designer, Renzo Picasso (no relation) – is just superb. Drawn in 1929, coinciding with the opening of Charles Holden’s sub-surface circular booking hall which replaced the original 1906 above-ground Leslie Green-designed station building. The unusual perspective, halfway between the platform level and the (invisible) roads above, permits a wonderful level of clarity in the drawing. 

The only slight drawback with the digram is the strange mixture of English and Italian labels: “east bound” and “west bound”, but also “scala di servizio” (service stairs) – but this in no way detracts from the amazing quality of the draftsmanship.

The label above the famous statue of Eros – A “World Centre” – might perhaps be referring to a contemporaneous mural by artist Stephen Bone in the concourse that showed the world with London at its centre (naturally!).

Source: The Renzo Picasso Archive’s Facebook Page

[anonymous submission]

Back in 2003 Shakespeare scholar Michael Wood in his book ‘In Search of Shakespeare’  (p. 252) mentioned several identifiable POC living in one single London parish:

’…in the small parish of St. Botolph’s outside Aldgate…we find twenty-five black people living in Shakespeare’s lifetime…Among the names are these:

Christopher Capperbert

Suzanna Pearis

Symon Valencia




Francis…servant to Mr Peter Miller a beare brewer dwelling at the sign of the hartes horne in the liberties of Eastsmithfield…’

Delving into more detail, Oxford University historian Dr M. Kauffman’s forthcoming book ‘Black Tudors’, due in autumn 2016, will examine the lives of over 350 Africans known to have lived in Renaissance Britain.  (That doesn’t of course mean ONLY 350 lived there - just that 350 names of people clearly identified as black happen to have survived in historical records which are pretty patchy at best.)

The question is, if today’s POC don’t represent such figures at Renaissance Faires - then who can? Or are these documented black Elizabethans destined to be quietly wiped from the historical record?