The Lady Marquesse of Pembroke

On 1 September 1532, one year and six days before the birth of the their daughter, the future Queen Elizabeth I of England, King Henry VIII invested his intended bride, Anne Boleyn, with Marquessate of Pembroke and its income of more than ₤1,000 per annum.

anne boleyn patent pembroke

Anne was now the highest ranking peeress in Great Britain. There were only five men in the kingdom who were even her equals: three dukes and two marquesses, including the king’s brother-in-law (Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk), the king’s illegitimate son (Henry FitzRoy, 1st Duke of Richmond and Somerset), Anne’s great-uncle, the 3rd Duke of Norfolk, the father of future Queen Jane Grey, Henry Grey,3rd Marquess of Dorset, and the king’s maternal cousin, Henry Courtenay, 1st Marquess of Exeter.

The king had made her a high-ranking version of the Earl of Pembroke, which was highly symbolic. The last Earl of Pembroke was Jasper Tudor, the beloved uncle and and guardian of King Henry VII. If it had not been for Jasper’s care, young Henry probably wouldn’t have survived to become the first Tudor monarch. Moreover, Henry VII had been born in Pembroke Castle, the seat of the Pembroke estates.

Jasper Tudor stain glass cardiff castle

When Jasper Tudor died in December 1495, he left his lands and titles to his small nephew, the king’s second son, Henry, who was then the Duke of York. These titles and lands returned to the crown when Henry became king. By giving them to Anne, he was literally giving her a piece of himself, Wales, and his Tudor heritage.

The king also ensured that Anne could pass her estates down to her male heirs, whether or not they were legitimate. Although there is no evidence that the king and Anne were having sex yet, Henry was plainly trying to assure her that if they DID make the beast with two backs, their children would be provided for. Furthermore, those children would be acknowledged as part of the Tudor bloodline, both by their father and by the inheritance of Pembroke.

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