Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Question from Emilia - Normal day for a Queen

I´ve previously sent in a question and was very pleased by the answers i recieved, so i thought why not ask another one that has been occupying my thoughts..
I would like to know how a completely normal day could look like for Henry and his wife´s (im perticularly interested in Anne B)?
I can only imagine how completely different their everyday lives must have been compared to our modern living!
When did they get up in the morning?
What did they have for breakfest, dinner, snacks and so forth?
How about hygine (toothbrushing, bathing, make-up etc)?
How did the queen(s) interact with her ladies in waiting?
(feel free to add to my questions)
I basically want to know everything that a normal day included..
Thank you in advance!


  1. These are questions I often think a lot about too! Most of my comment relates to Henry's daily life -I don't know that much about Anne Boleyn's, or any other queens'.

    Well, according to Henry VIII: The King and His Court by Alison Weir, Henry got up around 8 am. His gentlemen dressed him and then he left his rooms to go to mass before, if possible, going hunting before having a late dinner (what they called lunch). Both the King and the Queen usually had their own privy kitchens near their privy chambers so that they could dine at a time that suited them, instead of eating whenever the rest of the Court did. I take this to understand that most of the time the king and queen would dine separately in their privy chambers each with his/her gentlemen/ladies. I know Henry VIII ate manchet bread (fine, white bread) and meat and he had salt. According to Weir Henry's favourite dishes included venison, game pies stuffed with oranges, haggis, eels, baked lampreys, salmon, sturgeon, ling, beef stuffed with forcemeat and vegetables, custards, fritters, tarts, jelly and cream of almonds. He also liked porpoise, which became a Tudor delicacy. Sometimes, instead of hunting in the morning (by the way, Katharine of Aragon almost always went hunting with Henry whenever he wanted, if I'm not mistaken -but I don't know if the same holds true or not for Anne Boleyn), Henry might read, work in his library, mix medicines (which he apparently was very fond of doing) or just relax with his gentlemen in the privy chamber all day.

    In the afternoon Henry sometimes exercised his horses or received ambassadors. He usually left state business until very late after supper, which his councillors complained about.

    The King and Queen rarely ate supper together, and usually when Henry did eat in the Queen's rooms it was a prelude to sleeping with her. Otherwise Henry usually watched entertainments or gambled in the evenings with his courtiers. After dark he would sometimes go up to the roof and study the stars. He would also sometimes order a snack late at night -such as a "bowl of aleberry" which is a sort of bread pudding flavoured with ale. Henry usually didn't go to bed before midnight. Before going to bed his gentlemen and the esquires undressed him and he was a basin of water and a cloth so that he could wash his face and clean his teeth.

    In regards to bathing, we do not know how often the king bathed. We do know that he had wooden tubs in most of his palaces, and he took herbal baths in the winter and avoided bathing during plague epidemics for fear of catching the disease. Henry VIII was constantly waging a battle against dirt and filth, so it seems almost certain that he would have taken advantage of all his tubs.

    Anne Boleyn, if I remember correctly, was not fond of spending time with her ladies-in-waiting and i gather that she could be a bit unfriendly towards them -that's my own judgement though. However custom dictated that she had to spend a considerable amount of the day with them, and so she did. I read once that she often spoke to her maids about her religious beliefs, which were rather Lutheran. I also know she tried to establish a high degree of morality into her ladies. Katharine of Aragon often read religious works with her ladies and encouraged learning among them. Katharine Parr, of course, also encouraged open talk amongst her ladies about Protestantism. That's pretty much the extent of my knowledge on how the queens interacted with their ladies, though.

  2. Activities that took up a lot of time for Anne included: Prayer, religious reading (sometimes read aloud by someone else), and attending services. Having letters read to her, and dictating letters. Being dressed, being undressed, being dressed again-- several changes a day were normal, and each took quite a while. Sewing shirts and underwear, and doing embroidery-- in company with her ladies. Gossiping, joking, and flirting. Young men of the court were said to spend a lot of time in Anne's apartments- they would flirt with both her, and, more hopefully, with her maids. Singing, playing the lute, dancing. Listening to others make music, and watching them dance. Ordering and being fitted for clothing and jewelery.
    Being asked, by many, many people, to get Henry to grant them money, jobs, land, etc. Trying to get Henry to grant them money, jobs, land, etc. Making puplic appearances, with or without Henry. Being rowed about in a barge on the River Thames was popular. Admiring Henry, and all he did. Nagging Henry for more money, jewels, land, etc. Worrying about Henry looking at other women. Playing with her lap dogs. Being entertained by fools and jesters, her own and Henry's. Gambling, usually at cards.

    When Henry was courting Anne, she rehearsed for and appeared in masques, danced both with and for him, and rode with him to hunt and hawk. After her marriage, she was usually pregnant, recovering from birth or miscarriage, or trying to get pregnant again. As people at the time believed that exercise was bad for the mother's chances of having a healthy child, she wouldn't have done as much physically. Oh, and she liked to order clothes for Elizabeth, and sometimes made the hour or so's ride to visit her. Usually she also quarrelled with Mary her step daughter, who lived under the same roof as Elizabeth. Brief, gaudy hour, indeed.


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