Anne Boleyn's First Christmas as England's Secret Queen

Christmas was one of the high points of the year for the Tudor court. Nobles who had retired to their country homes often returned for the festivities, so the palace would be packed to capacity during the season. So many courtiers attended in 1532 that temporary kitchens had to be erected on the grounds of Greenwich to prepare enough food for the crowd.

Christmas of 1532 was a particularly lavish celebration for Henry's court. He was in a joyous mood. Anne Boleyn and Henry had secretly married a month prior, and though Anne likely didn't know it yet, she was carrying Henry's child.

They had not yet announced the marriage to the court, waiting for the right moment, but it seems there were a few hints about it. A new play by John Heywood was performed at court that Christmas, The Play of the Weather. As with many forms of art in the period, it was an allegory, wrapping current events in a fine veil of mythological references.

Jupiter (Henry) hears requests from people begging for the sort of weather they need to be successful in their endeavors. The play alludes to the creation of a new moon because the "old moon" (Katharine of Aragon) could hold no water (have children) but, by Saint Anne, the "weather" would soon amend - an allusion that needs no explanation.

This was the second year that Katharine of Aragon had been absent from the Christmas festivities. The prior year, the French ambassador had attended a feast hosted by Anne in her chambers, rather than the traditional feast presided over by the king and queen. This year, Anne openly took the place of Katharine, and also resided in the queen's chambers.

Katharine sent a Christmas gift to her husband, as always. Imperial ambassador Eustace Chapuys describes the scene:

The Queen [Katharine] having been forbidden to write letters or send messages to the King, and yet wishing to fulfil her duty towards him in every respect,caused to be presented to him on New Year's Day, by one of the gentlemen of the chamber, a gold cup of great value and singular workmanship, the gift being offered in the most humble and appropriate terms for the occasion. 
The King, however, not only refused to accept the present, but seemed at first very angry with the gentleman who had undertaken to bring it. Yet it appears that two or three hours afterwards the King himself desired to see the cup again, praised much its shape and workmanship, and fearing lest the gentleman of his chamber who had received it from the Queen's messenger should take it back immediately—in which case the Queen might have it presented again before the courtiers (devant tout lemonde), when he (the King) could not well refuse its acceptance—he ordered the gentleman not to give the cup back until the evening, which was accordingly done, and it was then returned to the Queen. The King, moreover, has sent her no New Year's gift on this occasion, but has, I hear, forbidden the members of his Privy Council, as well as the gentlemen of his chamber, and others to comply with the said custom.
The King used also on New Year's Day to send [presents] to the ladies of the Queen's Household, and to those of the Princess, but this custom, hitherto faithfully observed, has now been discontinued, and no present has been sent, which is a sign to me that unless some prompt remedy be applied the state of the Queen and of her daughter, the Princess, will become worse and worse every day.
The King has not been equally uncourteous towards the Lady [Anne Boleyn] from whom he has accepted certain darts, worked in the Biscayan fashion, richly ornamented, and presented her inreturn rich hangings for one room, and a bed covered with gold and silver cloth, crimson satin, and embroidery richer than all the resit The Lady [Anne], moreover, is still lodging where the Queen formerly was, and during the late festivities has been attended by almost the same number of the ladies as the Queen herself had formerly in her suite, as if she were already a Queen.

The "darts" Chapuys mentions were Anne's gift to Henry. "Boar spears" is usually how they're described in histories of the era, but they were actually more like swords:

These boar-spear swords were made with a point like a spear, with a small bar of steel fixed transversely in the blade, about six inches from the extreme point, and just below the broadened end. No examples remain at the Tower, but at Windsor Castle is a good specimen. It has the grip covered with cuirbouilly, tooled with a small pattern. The cross-bar has been lost, but the hole in the blade shows where it was placed. The reason for this bar was the same as for that of the boar-spear, and in the Triumph of Maximilian by Burghmaier hunters are shown carrying both weapons.

Henry's gifts to Anne that year included a set of magnificent bedchamber hangings and the following, which he had polished and stamped with her arms before delivery:

Warrant under the King's sign manual to Cromwell, master of the Jewels, to deliver to the lady of Pembroke these parcels of gilt plate, late of Sir Henry Guldeford, controller of the Household :—2 gilt pots with round knobs behind the lids, which came to Sir Henry as executor to Sir William Compton, weighing 133 oz. ; a pair of gilt flagons with the arms of France, 147 oz. ; 6 gilt bowls without a cover, 200½oz. ; 3 gilt salts with a cover of Parres touch," which belonged to Sir Will. Compton, 77 oz. ; 12 gilt spoons with demi-knops at the end, 18 oz. ; a pair of parcel-gilt pots, 99½ oz. ; another, 97¾ oz. ; another, 71 oz. ; 6 parcel-gilt bowls without cover, 199¼ oz. ; the cover of the same, 19¾ oz. ; a basin and ewer, parcel-gilt, 77 oz. ; another basin and ewer, parcel-gilt, 64 oz. ; 11 white spoons with roses at the ends, 20¼ oz. ; 4 candles, white, with high sockets, 86½ oz. ; "a round bason of silver for a chamber, and a silver pot to the same, weighing together 138½ oz." ; and a chafing dish, parcel-gilt, 39¾ oz. "And that ye make entry of the foresaid parcels of plate into our book of Extra for the rather noticing the same hereafter." Greenwich, 1 Jan. 24 Hen. VIII.

He gave her father a steel "glass" (probably a mirror) in a wooden case lined with black velvet. To Anne's mother, Henry sent a needlework case and six shirt collars - three in gold and three in silver. Anne's brother, George, was given two gilt "hyngers" - which were short swords with gold decorations. Jane Parker, Lady Rochford was given four caps - two of satin, two of velvet - decorated with gold buttons.

Within a month or so, Anne Boleyn would know she was pregnant, and the couple would re-marry on the night of a new moon in the gatehouse at Whitehall palace. Rumors would fly, and Anne would make broad hints as she ruled as queen in all but name, but the marriage would not be officially announced until Easter.

Anne Boleyn's ghost is said to walk the grounds of Hever Castle around Christmas time, appearing beneath an oak tree where she and Henry are said to have courted. She crosses a bridge, it is said, and tosses a sprig of holly into the river.

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