The Lady becomes a Marquis

On September 1st 1532 Anne Boleyn was created Marquis of Pembroke, a title held in her own right, the first time a woman in England had ever held such a peerage.

Anne Boleyn had been mistress to King Henry VIII for approximately six years and the “Great Matter” of Henry’s divorce from his wife Queen Catherine of Aragon was still raging on; yet  it appeared that both Anne and Henry believed their time was approaching. Henry had faith that soon the whole matter regarding the annulment of his marriage would be sorted and he would be free to marry Anne. Already Henry was spending increasing amounts upon Anne in not only coin but also for fine clothing – clothing befitting a future Queen.

As well as this belief Henry VIII would soon be meeting with King Francis I of France and with Anne travelling with him she needed a suitable title and position to meet the French King. Last time Anne Boleyn had seen the King of France she had been a lady in waiting to Queen Catherine of Aragon. Henry and Anne both believed that soon she would be Queen and therefore Anne needed status.

On September 1st at Windsor Castle a lavish ceremony was held creating Anne Boleyn as the Marquis of Pembroke. For this stunning and important ceremony Anne wore her long dark hair down, flowing over her shoulders and down her ermined trimmed velvet surcoat. She also wore many beautiful jewels given to her by Henry himself.

Anne was taken into the King’s presence by the Garter King-at-Arms and the Countess of Rutland and Derby and Mary Howard, Anne’s cousin and wife of Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, who carried the crimson velvet mantle and the golden coronet of Marquis.

On each side of the King stood the Duke of Norfolk and the Duke of Suffolk and the whole court watched the following ceremony.

After Anne entered the King’s presence she bowed before him and Bishop Stephen Gardiner read out the patent which gave Anne Boleyn the title of Marquis of Pembroke in her own right. After this Henry VIII placed around her shoulders the mantle and upon her head the coronet and then gave her the patent of her status. He also conferred upon her lands which were worth about £1000 a year.

It is important to note that the patent of Marquis of Pembroke was given to Anne Boleyn in her own right – that is she held the title and not her father or future husband. It was to her son that the title would be inherited. It should also be noted that the words ‘lawfully begotten’ was removed from the patent – that is if an illegitimate child was born to Anne that son would be able to inherit the title of Marquis of Pembroke. I find this extremely interesting and I can only wonder if Henry and possibly Anne were accounting for the chance that Anne might fall pregnant before her marriage to Henry. If Henry and Anne were already thinking about the possibilities of a child before marriage I can only wonder if Anne had finally decided to sleep with Henry or if the possibility was close.  Either way Anne Boleyn was now one step closer to becoming Queen.

Anne Boleyn

(Image from Wikipedia)


Ives, E 2005, The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Australia.

Friedmann, P 2010, Anne Boleyn, Amberly Publishing, Gloucestershire.

Weir, A 1991, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Grove Press, New York.

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