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September 4, 1535 – Henry VIII’s Summer Progress Arrives at Wolf Hall

Summer hay field
Summer hay field – by Karin Claus via Deposit Photos

Summertime in Tudor times meant a progress, where the court would leave the heat and stench and potential plague in London and travel around the countryside. Progresses were scheduled during the “grass season,” when the hay was being cut, other work was minimal, and the hunting ideal. A pared-down complement of courtiers would accompany the King and Queen to the royal residences and manor houses on a route that was carefully decided each year, well in advance (it was a great honor to host the court, though also a great responsibility).

The Summer Progress of 1535 was the longest and most politically charged that Henry had yet undertaken. He and Anne would spend fourteen weeks travelling through the West Country, greeting the English people and hopefully winning their support for their religious reforms. This was Anne’s first (and as it turned out, only) official progress  as Queen – in 1533, she was in the final stages of pregnancy (Elizabeth was born on September 7th), and in 1534 should have been so again (she miscarried in late June/early July, in what was thought to be her seventh or eighth month of pregnancy). The trip brought them to Wolf Hall – the ancestral home of the Seymour family. Given that Henry VIII married Jane Seymour only eight months after this visit, many people believe this was the start of their relationship. I certainly do.

Of course, their romance was a slow build. Remember, the King was a romantic who loved nothing more than the chivalry of courtly love. (In his early years, when he was still completely obsessed with Catherine, he would actually disguise himself to flatter and court her…). Henry would have been increasingly charmed and intrigued by Jane’s simplicity and shyness, especially compared with the firestorm that always seemed to surround Anne. That’s how I’ve presented it in Jane the Quene, so you can judge for yourself whether you agree or not.

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