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Seventeenth Century

Eighteenth Century



Anne Boleyn's Triumphal Entry into London

Letter of Archbishop Cranmer to Archdeacon Hawkyns.1

on Anne Boleyn's Coronation

[27 June, 1533]

Harl. MSS. 6148. fol. 23.

         In my most hearty wise I commend me unto you, and even so would be right glad to hear of your welfare, &c. These be to advertise you, that inasmuch as you now and then take some pains in writing unto me, I would be loth you should think your labour utterly lost and forgotten for lack of writing again;2 therefore, and because I reckon you be some deal desirous of such news as hath been here with us of late in the King's Grace's matters, I intend to inform you a part thereof, according to the tenor and purport used in that behalf.
         And first, as touching the final determination and concluding of the matter of divorce between my Lady Kateren3 and the King's Grace, which said matter, after the Convocation in that behalf had determined and agreed according to the former consent of the Universities, it was thought convenient by the King and his learned counsel, that I should repair unto Dunstable, which is within four miles unto Amptell,4 where the said Lady Kateren keepeth her house, and there to call her before me to hear the final sentence in the said matter. Notwithstanding, she would not at all obey thereunto, for when she was by Doctor Lee cited to appear by a day, she utterly refused the same, saying, that inasmuch as her cause was before the Pope, she would have none other judge; and therefore would not take me for her judge.
         Nevertheless the viiith day of May, according to the said appointment, I came unto Dunstable, my Lord of Lincoln5 being assistant unto me, and my Lord of Wynchester, Doctor Bell, Dr. Claybroke, Dr. Trygonnell, Dr. Hewis, Dr. Olyver, Dr. Brytten, Mr. Bedell, with divers other learned in the law, being counsellors in the law for the King's part: and so there at our coming kept a Court for the appearance of the said Lady Kateren, where were examined certain witness which testified that she was lawfully cited and called to appear, whom for fault of appearance was declared contumax;6 proceeding in the said cause against her in penam contumaciae,7 as the process of the law thereunto belongeth; which continued fifteen days after our coming thither. And the morrow after Ascension-day I gave final sentence therein, how that it was indispensable for the Pope to license any such marriages.
         This done, and after our rejourneying home again, the King's Highness prepared all things convenient for the Coronation of the Queen,8 which also was after such a manner as followeth.
         The Thursday next before the feast of Pentecost, the King and the Queen being at Grenewyche,9 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 Grenewiche, where they tarried and waited for the Queen's coming to her barge: which so done, they brought her unto the Tower, trumpets, shambes,10 and other divers instruments all the ways playing and making great melody, which, as is reported, was so 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 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 alone so strange to hear of, as also their garments11 stranger to behold or look on; which said Knights the next day, which was Saturday, rid 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 upon a horse litter, richly apparelled,12 and four Knights of the five ports13 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;14 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 was showed many costly pageants, with divers other encomies15 spoken of children to her. And so proceeding throughout the streets, passed forth unto Westminster Hall, where was a certain banquet prepared for her, which done, she was conveyed out of the backside of the palace into a barge, and so unto York Place,16 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 Grenewyche17 to the Tower, as from the Tower to York Place.
         Now then on Sunday was the Coronation, which also was of such a manner.
         In the morning there assemble[d] with me at Westminster Church, the Bishop of York,18 the Bishop of London,19 the Bishop of Wynchester,20 the Bishop of Lyncoln,21 the Bishop of Bath,22 and the Bishop of St. Asse,23 the Abbot of Westminstre,24 with ten or twelve more Abbots, which all revestred ourselves in our pontificalibus,25 and so furnished, with our crosses and crosiers,26 proceeded out of the Abbey in a procession unto Westminstre 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 before time in such business: and so her Grace sustained of each side with two Bishops, the Bishop of London and the Bishop of Wynchester, came forth in procession unto the Church of Westminstre, she in her hair,27 my Lord of Suffolke 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, &c. 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 the choir in Westminstre Church; which mass and ceremonies done and finished, all the assembly of noblemen brought her into Westminstre Hall 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 day28 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 also reported of me, which be mere lies and tales.
         Other news have we none notable, but that one Fryth,29 which was in the Tower in prison, was appointed by the King's Grace to be examined before me, my Lord of London, my Lord of Wynchestre, my Lord of Suffolke, my Lord Chancellor,30 and my Lord of Wylteshere,31 whose opinion was so notably erroneous, that we could not dispatch him, but was fain to leave him to the determination of his Ordinary, which is the Bishop of London. His said opinion is of such nature, that he thought it not necessary to be believed as an article of our faith, that there is the very corporal presence of Christ within the host and sacrament of the altar, and holdeth of this point most after the opinion of OEcolampadius. And surely I myself sent for him three or four times to persuade him to leave that his imagination, but for all that we could do therein, he would not apply to any counsel; notwithstanding now he is at a final end with all examinations, for my Lord of London hath given sentence and delivered him to the secular power, where he looketh every day to go unto the fire.32 And there is also condemned with him one Andrewe, a tailor of London, for the said selfsame opinion.
         If you have not heard of our ambassadors lately gone over,33 you shall understand that my Lord of Northfolk, my Lord of Rocheforde, Master Paulet, Sir Francis Bryan, Sir Antoney Browne, &c., Dr. Gooderyche, D. Aldryche, and D. Thrylbey, be gone unto France to the French King.34 And as I suppose they go from him to the Pope unto......35
         Further you shall understand, that there is many here which wish you to succeed your uncle;36 notwithstanding I would you should not think the contrary, but that there be a great sort which would it should not come to pass; nevertheless you be neither the nearer ne 37 further off through such idle communication.
         Finally, I here send unto you a bill for the bank of four ducats de largo, which sum I would you should not take it up before you have need thereof, and therefore I send it for your commodity and necessity; for it is none of the King's Grace's money, nor his said Grace knoweth nothing thereof, but alonely of my benevolence to serve your purpose, in case, as I said, you should lack the same. And thus fare ye well. From my manor of Croydon, the xvii. day of June. [1533.]


  1. Nicholas Hawkins, Archdeacon (and, later, bishop elect) of Ely, succeeded Cranmer as ambassador to Emperor Charles V. He died in 1534, while returning from Spain, possibly of poison.
  2. Writing again, writing back.
  3. Catherine of Aragon was no longer allowed the appellation "Queen" — she was to be titled "Princess Dowager", as per her first marriage, to Prince Arthur, and thus addressed merely "Lady Catherine" instead of Queen Catherine.
  4. Amptell, Ampthill Castle, Bedfordshire.
  5. John Longland, Bishop of Lincoln, Dean of Salisbury, Confessor to King Henry VIII.
  6. contumax, contumacious; when a defendant is ordered and refuses to appear in court for the trial, he/she is contumax.
  7. in poenam contumaciae, (lit. 'on pain of contumacy'), subject to being held in contempt of the court.
  8. A detailed description of Anne Boleyn's coronation can be found in Stow's Annales of England. It is also portrayed by Shakespeare in Act IV of Henry VIII.
  9. Greenwich Palace, on the Henry VIII's chief residences.
  10. shambes, i.e., Shawms.
  11. According to Stow, they wore "violet gowns with hoods purfled with miniver like doctors." Annals.
  12. Stow says Anne Boleyn wore "a kirtle of white cloth of tissue, and a mantle of the same furred with ermine, her hair hanging down, but on her head she had a coif with a circlet about it full of rich stones."
  13. See The Cinque Ports.
  14. Two of these "ancient old ladies," were the "old Duchess of Norfolk, and the old Marchioness of Dorset." Stow, ibid.
  15. Encomia.
  16. York Place was the previous name of the palace of Whitehall.
  17. Greenwich Palace.
  18. Edward Lee.
  19. John Stokesley.
  20. Stephen Gardiner.
  21. John Longland. See note #5.
  22. John Clerk.
  23. Henry Standish.
  24. William Boston, according to his oath in Rymer, or Benson, according to his will. He was the last Abbot, first Dean of Westminster.
  25. in pontificalibus, in the official vestments of a bishop or cardinal, etc., respectively.
  26. Crosier, official staff of bishops and abbots.
  27. In her hair, i.e., her hair flowing loosely on her shoulders.
  28. This part of the Letter, as has been observed by Mr. Ellis, proves two facts respecting which there has been some dispute: one, that Anne Boleyn was married on St. Paul's day, the 25th of January; the other, that Cranmer was not present on the occasion. The date of the marriage is given correctly by Stow; but Hall, and Holinshed after him, name St. Erkenwald's day, the 14th of November. The presence of Cranmer is asserted by Lord Herbert, whose mistake has been adopted by Burnet and Dr. Milner.
  29. A peculiar interest is attached to the name of Frith, from his being the first Englishman after Wicliff, who wrote against the received doctrine of the Eucharist, from the celebrity of his opponent in the controversy, Sir Thomas More, and from the influence which his writings are supposed to have had on Cranmer. See Preface; Burnet, History of the Reformation in England, vol. i. p. 338; Foxe, Acts and Monuments, vol. ii. p. 303, and vol. iii. Appendix, p. 989; where is a very interesting narrative of his appearance before the Archbishop at Croydon.
  30. Sir Thomas Audeley was appointed Lord Keeper the 20th of May 1532, on the resignation of Sir Thomas More; and Lord Chancellor the 26th of January, 1533. State Papers, vol. i. p. 389.
  31. Thomas Boleyn, Queen Anne Boleyn's father.
  32. Both Frith and Andrew Hewet were burnt in Smithfield on the 4th of July, 1533. Foxe, Acts, &c., Vol, ii. p. 309. Burnet, following Hall and Stow, places their execution in 1534, but Foxe's date is strongly supported by this Letter.
  33. This latter part of the Letter is omitted, both by Mr. Ellis and by Mr. Todd.
  34. "The King understanding that the Pope, the Emperor, and the French King, should meet at Nice in June following, he appointed the Duke of Nortfolk, &c. to go in ambassage to the French King, and both to accompany him to Nice, and also to commune with the Pope there, concerning his stay in the King's divorce." Stow, Annals.
  35. Francis I and Pope Clement VII met in October at Marseilles.
  36. "On the death of Dr. West, Bishop of Ely, his nephew and godson Dr. Nicholas Hawkins, Archdeacon of Ely, at that time the King's ambassador in foreign parts, was designed to succeed him; but he dying before his consecration could be effected, the King granted his license to the Prior and Convent, dated March 6, 1534, to choose themselves a bishop; who immediately elected in their chapter-house, the seventeenth of the same month, Thomas Goodrich." Chalmers, Biogr. Dict. art. Goodrich.
  37. ne, nor.

    The Remains of Thomas Cranmer. Vol I. Rev. Henry Jenkyns, Ed.
    Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1833. 27-33.

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Persons of Interest
Cardinal Thomas Wolsey
Archbishop Thomas Cranmer
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Cardinal Lorenzo Campeggio
Cardinal Reginald Pole
Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester
William Tyndale
Pico della Mirandola
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Oath of Supremacy
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The First Act of Succession, 1534
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Images of London:
London in the time of Henry VII. MS. Roy. 16 F. ii.
London, 1510, earliest view in print
Map of England from Saxton's Descriptio Angliae, 1579
Location Map of Elizabethan London
Plan of the Bankside, Southwark, in Shakespeare's time
Detail of Norden's Map of the Bankside, 1593
Bull and Bear Baiting Rings from the Agas Map (1569-1590, pub. 1631)
Sketch of the Swan Theatre, c. 1596
Westminster in the Seventeenth Century, by Hollar
Visscher's Panoramic View of London, 1616. COLOR

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