Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Question from Ameetha - Anne Boleyn Queen Regnant or Queen Consort

In Alison Weir's "The Six Wives of Henry the VIII" she says that Anne Boleyn was actually crowned Queen Regnant and not was not merely a Queen Consort and therefore the only person then or since to have been a consort and yet crowned Queen Regnant.
Here is another link I found to a book that also agrees that since Anne was crowned with the crown of St Edward, she was a queen regnant as it was the crown used to crown reigning monarchs.

Question: Was Anne Boleyn crowned queen consort or queen regnant? Is there an absolute answer?

11 comments:

kb said...

What an excellent question!

Ameetha said...

Why, thank you, KB. I am hoping for an excellent answer. Teehee.

kb said...

My thoughts - Anne Boleyn was not a queen regnant. A queen regnant rules in her own right. Anne was crowned queen because she was married to the king, not because she inherited the throne or took it by force.

Starkey's "Six Wives" uses Cranmer's report of Anne's coronation. p.500 says "But it is clear that the usual ritual for a Queen consort was followed.There was no oath; instead the anointing was followed by the investiture with the ring, the crown, the sceptre and the ivory rod." He goes on to report the use of the St. Edward crown during the Te Deum and then it was replaced with another crown because of weight.

Katherine's coronation was jointly with Henry's. For Katherine no oath was administered, and Starkey make's the point that no spurs or sword was used. She was anointed with oil, given the coronation ring, the sceptre and the ivory rod. In this respect the ceremonial aspect was the same as Anne's coronation.

When Henry was away, Katherine was regent but not regnant. If Henry had gone away while married to Anne, she would have been named regent I suspect and not regnant.

It's an interesting thought...and I am not an expert on this. I'm just ruminating.

The use of the St. Edward crown was a mark of favor by Henry certainly. But if Henry died, I doubt Anne would have kept the throne on her own for very long. After Elizabeth's birth, if Henry died, Anne would have been the queen mother but not the queen.

Mary R said...

I agree that the fact that Anne Boleyn wore St Edward's crown was a mark of favor and a sign to all that Anne Boleyn was indeed, queen of England. I can't actually imagine Henry making Anne queen regnant (even Mary I didn't make Phillip II king regnant, although that became a major source of contention between them). I think if he had, we would have heard contemporary cries of outrage echoing through the centuries:)

Come to think of it, I'm not sure that Henry would have even made Anne Boleyn regent in his absence.

This is pure speculation on my part, but I think that Henry made Katharine of Aragon regent not just because she was queen, but because she was completely qualified to act in his stead (which she proved when she warded of the invasion by James IV of Scotland). Also, Katharine would have had the support of both the nobles and the common people, which Anne Boleyn would almost certainly have not had.

Mary R said...

Please forgive me for a bit of Russellesque humor (Gareth Russell, "The Tudor Rose Bar"). Imagine an Anne Boleyn regency in which Henry returns from a sojourn abroad.

Anne Boleyn: Sorry dear , but that axe just happened to slip over your daughter Mary's neck!

Foose said...

I can't find the reference in Starkey, but I thought it was he who made the point that Henry was effectively crowning the expected male fetus in Anne's womb, with Anne being the necessary interface, rather than just Anne herself. The entire pageant of the coronation had been designed with the goal of underscoring the legitimacy of Henry's new heir (in Anne's body). Perhaps, if she had not been pregnant, she might have gotten the consort's crown and not the crown of St. Edward ...?

Per the regency question - I have wondered if, after Henry's jousting accident in 1536, when he was unconscious for several hours, there was an informal test of Anne's strength as a post-Henrician political figure, which she might have failed.

A parallel might be seen in Henry VII's reign, when apparently there was talk of Buckingham rather than young Henry succeeding the old king; the Venetian envoys also mentioned Buckingham's popularity in 1519 as a likely successor (ignoring the claims of the then indisputably legitimate Princess Mary).

Similarly, in 1536, with the king perhaps moribund, there could have been an unofficial canvassing among the lords and officers of state on the succession, with the conservatives winning the argument that supporting an underage and dubiously legitimate Elizabeth, with her hideously unpopular mother, was a nonstarter and that the only possible choice was Mary - healthy as compared to Fitzroy, with a mother experienced as regent, unquestionably popular, and commanding viable backing from the Empire. Anne was pregnant, of course, but that would make the situation even more problematic if the king died - waiting around to see if her child was male, more uncertainty and disaffection among the magnates, more menace from the Emperor, more scandal and rumor rocketing around the kingdom, more opportunities for panic-stricken and greedy maneuvers by her family and adherents.

But this is just speculation. (The TV show The Tudors, by contrast, presented the 1536 accident as the opportunity for a smooth coup by Thomas Boleyn and Cromwell, as they immediately closed the ports and organized an assassin for Mary if she so much as squeaked. The show comes in for a lot of criticism but I thought this episode showed some originality. I don't know if an unpopular minority alliance of evangelicals and the Howard affinity, even one orchestrated by Cromwell, could have gotten away with it, but they did have the Act of Succession on their side.)

The point is that if Henry recovered and heard about the discussion and panic, he might have realized that the succession was as unsettled as ever. Without him, Anne would be unable to close the deal with key Crown supporters, and would thus actually put his children by her in more danger. So his marriage and the various measures he had undertaken to enforce its legitimacy had pretty much been pointless.

Donna Maguire said...

Anne Boleyn was Queen Consort as were all of Henry VIII's wives as they only became Queen through marriage to Henry.

Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I, and Lady Jane Grey were Queen Regnants as they had the throne in their own rights and had they married, their Kings would have been King Consorts, much the same as is now the case for Elizabeth I and Prince Philip.

Ameetha said...

Foose, you bring up some very sensible and thought-provoking points. Thank you. As far as the television show, I always find it fascinating what writers do with a story whose essentials they cannot change, especially when one considers how often, in other shows, characters get written off and sudden plot twists are introduced.

Foose said...

Thanks! I did look into the sources a bit. Weir doesn't cite any in her two books (Six Wives, Lady in the Tower) for this specific statement about Anne being crowned as "queen regnant." Joanna Denny makes the same statement, but specifically cites the passage in Hall's Chronicle where the coronation of Queen Anne is described in some detail.

I couldn't see any smoking gun in that source, though - Hall is careful to note the details of the ceremonial, and if indeed they did follow exactly the ceremonial for a king's coronation, then perhaps Weir extrapolated that Anne was therefore crowned as a queen regnant (but even she uses qualified language, saying "as if she were ..." and "effectively crowning her as ..."). But I think scholars would dispute this and as kb notes, Starkey states the ritual was that used for a queen consort.

Per the regency, I did find a letter from Chapuys to the emperor dourly noting in 1534 that Parliament had "decided that in the event of the King dying before his mistress [i.e., Anne], the latter is to be regent and absolute governess of her children and kingdom."

Anonymous said...

To Donna Maguire, there are a few errors to your post. One thing, Mary Tudor (Mary I) did in fact marry, as did Lady Jane Grey. Yet their husbands were never "King Consort." While the male spouses to the reigning Queens (Lady Jane Grey, Mary I, Anne, Victoria, Elizabeth II) could be seen as "King Consort" through their marriage, there has never been a real King Consort. Lady Jane Grey refused to give her husband a title, Philip of Spain would not take the title of "King Consort", demanding more power than what the title would have given him, and Queen Anne's husband George was merely known as George of Denmark. (And of course, her sister Mary II co-ruled England with her husband William III)

The closest there has been for a 'King Consort' was Prince Albert, who held the title 'Prince Consort' instead. The English people have been known for being very anxious of foreign Princes who married their Queens. The government wouldn't have granted him the title of 'King Consort'.

As for Elizabeth II's husband, Philip is merely a Prince of Greece and Denmark (both through birth) the UK (by the Queen's creation). He officialy holds neither title of Prince or King Consort, and is officially known as the Duke of Edinburgh.

So, while they may seem like they are King Consorts, there has never been a King Consort in the history of the English monarchy.

Marilyn R said...

Since this thread began I've managed to get a copy of Sir Roy Strong's hefty tome on coronations, which he himself sees as the definitive work on the subject, and as far as I can tell, without going through it word for word, there is nothing on the subject of Anne Boleyn being anything other than a consort.

As far as Prince Albert goes, Victoria wanted him to have the title King Consort from the beginning, but parliament let her know it was out of the question. Even after 17 years of unstinting service to the country they would not grant the title Prince Consort, so Victoria took matters into her own hands and it was granted by Letters Patent, but coming as the gift of his wife it did not have quite the same punch to it and he must have been a disappointed man. Before, and to some extent after, the title was granted, he was simply referred to as 'the Prince' or Prince Albert.