Today in 1535, the court arrived back at Windsor after the longest and most politically charged summer progress of Henry VIII’s reign.
The summer progress fulfilled many roles. On a personal level, it allowed the King and Queen to get away from London during the hottest time of the summer, giving them a lovely “break” from their regular duties. Far more important, it allowed the King to meet his subjects and cement their loyalty. This factor was especially important in 1535, since this was Anne Boleyn’s first (and only) official progress as Queen – she was in the final stages of pregnancy in 1533 (Elizabeth was born in September 7th), she was also pregnant in 1534 (she miscarried in late June/early July, in what was thought to be her seventh or eighth month of pregnancy) – so this was her first real chance to show herself to the English people and win them over. During the almost four months the royal couple were away, they traveled extensively through the south-west of England, visiting Reading, Ewelme, Abingdon, Woodstock, Langley and Sudeley Castle. They also stayed at Berkeley Castle, then moved on to Thornbury (Henry had intended to visit Bristol but was deterred by reports of plague), then to Acton Court, Sodbury, Bromham…and Wolf Hall.
Wolf Hall was the ancestral home of the Seymours. Many believe that the King’s attraction to Jane Seymour began during this visit. Many also believe that this was the place where Anne Boleyn became pregnant with the fetus she miscarried in January…which likely sealed her eventual fate.
But none of this was known at the time. Indeed, it is almost impossible to reconcile the sad ending we know the story holds with the hope and promise that existed on this day back then.
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