Did King Henry VIII marry Anne Boleyn on 14 November 1532?
The argument that Henry VIII wed Anne Boleyn in a clandestine ceremony on St. Erkenwalds/Earconwalds/Erconwalds Day of 1532, when they landed in Dover after the political summit in Calais between Henry and King Francis I of France, is not a new one. Edward Hall’s chronicle, which was first published in 1548, claimed that Henry and Anne had married on that date:
The kyng after his returne, maried priuily the lady Anne Bulleyn, on sainct Erkenwaldes daie, whiche mariage was kept so secrete, that very fewe knewe it, til she was greate with child, at Easter after.
Later historians would later dispute this, pointing out that the couple had just arrived in Dover from English occupied France and would have had very little privacy to do such a secret deed. Personally, I think Anne and Henry were married either on that day or very shortly thereafter. Why? Because Anne Boleyn was sincerely devout and very determined to only give up her virginity in lawful (or at least semi-lawful) wedlock, and Queen Elizabeth I was most likely conceived in early or mid December.
Henry and Anne spend a leisurely fortnight crossing from Dover to Greenwich, taking their time in what David Starkey called “a winter honeymoon” in his book Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII. As soon as the royal couple got back to London, they immediately inspected the Tower, which needed massive renovations if it was to be used as the jumping off spot for Anne’s coronation, that the king and his secret bride were now planning. There was every indication that Anne and Henry now considered themselves in a new phase of their relationship, and were determined to give it all the public trappings of legitimacy.
The second, better known, ‘secret’ wedding of Henry and Anne took place on 22 January 1533, about the time Anne would have started to suspect she might be pregnant. Henry would have wanted everyone to know that his soon-to-born son was legitimate. A few weeks later, on 15 February, Anne dropped very broad hints in front of Katherina of Aragon’s allies and supporters in court that she was expecting to bear the king his longed-for male heir. Anne was certain she would give Henry a son. Wasn’t the ease with which she became pregnant proof of God’s favour? Since God was pleased with her, wouldn’t He give her a baby boy? What would be the point in giving her a girl?
Apparently God was an early feminist, because he seems to have considered a baby girls to mark his favour sufficiently. Anne delivered her daughter, Elizabeth, on 7 September 7 1533. That is, coincidentally, the feast day of St. Regina, a 3rd century virgin and martyr who had chosen death over marriage, and the day before the putative birthday of the Virgin Mary.
A fitting birthday for the Virgin Queen, no?