Today in history - Anne Boleyn goes into confinement
On August 26, 1533, Anne Boleyn took formal leave of the court and of the male world, and entered her confinement at Greenwich. Anne was following in the footsteps of Henry VIII’s mother, Elizabeth of York, who 42 years earlier, had given birth to Henry at the lovely, Thames-side palace.
Like Elizabeth, Anne too would follow the protocol for royal births as set out in The Royal Book, a handbook of court etiquette, already old in Tudor times, with some ‘finishing touches’ added during the reign of Henry VII.
Such an important event required elaborate ceremony and preparations had commenced earlier that month. According to David Starkey,
‘Carpenters and joiners had first prepared the skeleton by framing up a false ceiling in the chamber. Then the officers of the wardrobe had moved in to nail up and arrange the tapestry, carpets and hangings. At the last minute, gold and silver plate had been brought from the Jewel House. There were cups and bowls to stand on the cupboard and crucifixes, candlesticks and images for the altar. The result was a cross between a chapel and a luxuriously padded cell.’
On this day in the History of British Queens, 26th August
• 1346 - The Battle of Crécy: Philippa of Hainault’s husband, Edward III, and eldest son Edward, “the black prince”, defeat the French near Crécy-en-Ponthieu in Picardy, France. It was a major English victory in the Hundred Years War, and crippled the French’s ability to come to Calais’ aid, and it fell to the English the next year, remaining in their possession until the reign of Mary I. Philippa of Hainault’s own uncle, Charles II, Count of Alençon, was slain on the French side. He was also the nephew of the second Margaret of France and a cousin of Isabella of France. Philippa’s cousin, Louis II, Count of Blois, was also killed. Anne of Bohemia’s grandfather Louis I, Count of Luxembourg, also famously fought in the battle, despite being blind for half a decade, although he was later slain on the field.
• 1434 - Margaret of Anjou’s maternal grandmother, Margaret of the Palatinate, dies in Einville-au-Jard, France, at around 57-58.
• 1533 - Anne Boleyn, pregnant with the future Elizabeth I, enters confinement in Greenwich Palace to await the birth.
• 1565 - Mary, Queen of Scots sets out from Edinburgh to confront her illegitimate half-brother, James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray and other protestants who were rebelling against her marriage to Lord Darnley. This became known as the Chaseabout Raid.
THE Hoxne Hoard is the largest cache of late Romangold found anywhere in the Roman Empire. Discovered by a metal detectorist in Suffolk, in the east of England in 1992 CE, the incredible collection contains 14,865 late-4th and early-5th century CE Roman gold, silver and bronze coins, and 200 items of silver tableware and gold jewelery.
The hoard amounts to a total of 7.7lb of gold and 52.4 lb of silver, and its current value is estimated at around $4.3 million. As the finder reported his discovery immediately, the cache was professionally excavated by archaeologists and conserved soon afterward so the vital context of the objects and their condition were preserved.
Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1762) was an English aristocrat who, as the wife of the British ambassador to Turkey, became the author of the first secular writings by a woman about the Muslim Orient. Her letters during her time there recorded many aspects of daily life, and also cleared misconceptions about the treatment of women and their status in society.
Her writings about Turkey helped to show a part of Eastern culture previously unknown to Western society, since she was able to access exclusively female spaces and therefore become acquainted with the Turkish women’s way of life. Upon her return to England, she promoted variolation, a procedure to immunize the population against smallpox, therefore saving countless lives.
In 1532 a Venetian ambassador to the court of Henry VIII described Anne Boleyn as “not one of the handsomest women in the world. She is of middling stature, with a swarthy complexion, long neck, wide mouth, bosom not much raised, and in fact has nothing but the King’s great appetite, and her eyes, which are black and beautiful.”
It is true that Anne was never praised as a great beauty, but it was not so much her outward appearance which made the King fall for her. Anne had a remarkable wit. She was well educated and had honed her skills of flirtation and charm during her time at the French court.In the generations following her death, Anne was romantically portrayed as a raven haired vixen with smoldering black eyes. While her eyes were dark and quite striking, Anne’s hair was more likely a lighter shade of brown (some theorize that she may even have been a redhead) and, although only one contemporary image of her survives, her face was probably not considered the most beautiful in England.
Personally, I am of the opinion that Anne was not altogether what we would call “ugly” but rather that she did not fit with the beauty standards of Tudor England. She had olive skin, dark eyes, and was very slender with a small bosom. The Tudors preferred women to be of fair complexion and buxom of figure. Regardless of whether or not she met the criteria for the ideal Tudor lady, it was still ultimately Anne Boleyn’s mind and not her face that made her so extraordinary.
First Japanese printed map to depict the world from a Buddhist perspective, by Rokashi Hotan, dated 1710. Image from the Twitter feed of @Libroantiguo. This is one of the first Buddhist maps to depict Europe (the series of islands on the left). Umukari (Hungary), Oranda, Baratan, Komo (Holland or the country of the red hair), Arubaniya (Albania?), Itarya (Italy), Suransa (France) and Inkeresu (England) are all named. Africa appears as a small island in the western sea identified as the “land of western women”. Read more here at geographicus.com.
The “From Hell” letter – purportedly from Jack the Ripper (experts are divided on its authenticity) – that was sent to police in 1888. It reads:
Mr Lusk Sor I send you half the Kidne I took from one women prasarved it for you tother pirce I fried and ate it was very nise I may send you the bloody knif that took it out if you only wate a whil longer.