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May 29, 1533 – Start of Anne Boleyn’s Coronation Pageantry

Queen Victoria’s Royal Barge (I know, I know…but it’s visually close!), by an unknown artist

Yes, yes, I have already written about the wonderful pomp surrounding Anne Boleyn’s actual coronation – but the formalities began several days earlier – specifically, when she left Greenwich by barge and was lavishly escorted down the river to the Tower where she would be lodged in the newly expanded and refurbished royal apartments and feted with a number of courtly rituals.

We can’t forget how the water was the perfect stage from which monarchs could be seen by their people, a setting that could elevate even their simple trips from one palace to another. We have a charming description from The Noble Triumphant Coronation of Queen Anne, Wife unto the Most Noble King Henry VIII – showing how much of an effort was made to make this particular trip an awe-inspiring, almost magical event for onlookers and even participants. I have cleaned it up the account a bunch to make it easier to read; if you want to read the original spellings, click through the citation below!

FIRST the 29th day of May being Thursday, all the worshipful crafts and occupations in their best array goodly dressed took their barges which displayed goodly banners fresh and new with the cognizance and arms of their faculty to the number of great barges comely furnished and every barge having minstrels making great and sweet harmony. Also there was the bachelor’s barge comely furnished decked with innumerable banners and all about hung with riche cloth of gold foystes waiting her upon decked with a great shot of ordnance which descended the river afore all the barges and the bachelor’s barge foremost and so following in good array and order every craft in their degree and order until they came to Greenwich and there tarried abiding the Queen’s Grace which was a wonderful goodly sight to behold. Than at three of the clock, the Queen’s Grace came to her barge and immediately all the citizens with that goodly company set forth towards London in good array as before is said. And to write what number of guns shot what with chambers and great pieces of ordnance were shot as she passed by in divers places it passes my memory to write or to tell the number of them and specially at Ratly and at Lyme House out of certain shops. And so the Queen’s Grace in her rich barge among her nobles the citizens accompanied her to London unto the Tower Wharf. Also as she came near the Tower there was shot innumerable pieces of ordnance as ever was there by any men’s remembrances where the King received Her Grace with a noble loving countenance and so gave great thanks and praise to all the citizens for their great kindness and loving labor and pains in that behalf taken to the great joy and comfort of all the citizens. Also to behold the wonderful number of people that ever was seen that stood on the shore on both sides of the river was never in one sight out of the sight of London seen what in goodly lodgings and houses that be on the river side between Greenwich and London it passed all men’s judgments to esteem the infinite number of them. Wherein Her Grace with all her ladies rejoiced much.

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/32515/32515-h/32515-h.htm

Truly, May always seems such a tragic month in Anne’s life – it is nice to return to a time when it heralded nothing but good…

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