The trip that Henry and Anne took to France was a turning point in their relationship. Its main purpose was to seal an alliance with Francis I – and present Anne as Henry’s intended wife. To prepare for it, Henry elevated Anne to be Marquess of Pembroke so that she would outrank almost everyone at court. He also made Catherine give up the royal jewels so that Anne would be suitably adorned – on the trip and forever afterwards. With the heady experience of finally FEELING herself a queen, Anne finally ceded to Henry after seven long years (some people dispute that it happened during this trip – but I absolutely believe it…).
There was a small hiccup that almost ruined things: protocol required that Anne be received at the French court by a woman of similar rank…but that couldn’t happen. Francis was married to Eleanor of Austria – the sister of Charles V – and Eleanor refused to receive the “scandal of Christendom” who wanted to supplant her aunt. Marguerite of Angouleme, Francis’ sister, also refused to receive Anne for fear of insulting Charles (that was the snub that hurt, since Anne knew Marguerite well from her time in France). An offer was made that Francis’ maitresse en titre (official mistress) could greet Anne, but that was of course refused. With no one to receive her, Anne could not visit the French court….but she could be there when Francis came to visit the English court in Calais. To eliminate all risk of a snub, Anne hid her identity at first. She and seven ladies came masked into the room, and each of them chose a French lord. Anne of course chose Francis and the two of them danced for a bit before the masks were removed.
Chronicler Edward Hall describes it:
“After supper came in the Marchioness of Pembroke, with seven ladies in masking apparel of strange fashion, made of cloth of gold, compassed with crimson tinsel satin and with cloth of silver lying loose and knit with laces of gold. The ladies were brought into the chamber with four damsels appareled in crimson satin with tabards of fine cypress. The Lady Marchioness took the French King, and the Countess of Derby took the King of Navarre, and every lady took a lord. After dancing the King of England took away the ladies’ visors, so that the ladies’ beauties were showed.”
After the dance, Francis and Anne spoke privately before Henry escorted Francis to his rooms. Francis left the next day, but unfavorable winds kept Henry and Anne in Calais for almost two weeks after that. Edward Hall states that they married as soon as they landed in Dover on November 14…which is another thing that convinces me that the honeymoon actually took place during that time in France, with the formal wedding celebrated on English soil…Admittedly, I believe it because I so want them to have had this wonderful time together…
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