What did Elizabeth I think of her mother Anne Boleyn (who had been executed)?

in #busy6 years ago

Famously, Elizabeth I was the daughter of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII's second wife, for whom he broke from Rome and created the Church of England, in order to marry her.

However Anne failed to produce a male heir, and sharp tongued and intelligent, she started to get on Henry's nerves. He had her beheaded and married Jane Seymour just a week after Anne's death.

Elizabeth would have been only three years old when her mother died - and she never once spoke of her to anyone.

We have a lot of first hand reports and letters handed down through history, from her governess Kath Ashley, from Catherine Parr (Henry VIII's sixth and last wife who kindly gave Elizabeth a home and raised her), from various courtiers and friends, from foreign ambassadors to her court - and the consensus is that she had blotted her mother out and had forgotten her.

In public too during her reign, she made much of the Tudor dynasty (and the red Tudor hair which she had inherited from her paternal grandmother, Elizabeth of York), but she never mentioned her mother, it was like Anne Boleyn had never existed.

Recently however, some new evidence came to light.

On Elizabeth's death, a ring was removed from her finger, and it was given to James I, the Scottish king who inherited Elizabeth's English throne, to mark her death. James I inherited all Elizabeth's jewelry and soon distributed it to either his wife, or to favoured courtiers as rewards for work they did.

The ring, which had Elizabeth's initial 'E' on it in diamonds, ended up in hands of the Earl of Home and was passed down his family for the next few centuries, until it was purchased by Arthur Lee, Viscount of Fareham, in the 19th century.

Arthur Lee owned a country estate called Chequers, and in 1917, he gave Chequers and it's entire contents and land to the nation in trust, for the use of the Prime Minister of the day. (He was of the opinion Prime Ministers needed somewhere to retreat to think).

As a result the ring ended up in the Chequers collection, and a curator made a discovery: the ring was actually a locket which opened. And inside the locket were two portraits, at the bottom a portrait of Elizabeth herself, and at the top one of Anne Boleyn.

So she had remembered her mother after all, despite losing her at the age of 3, and Elizabeth was wearing the locket when she died age 69.

The story of the ring is poignant. It's amazing Elizabeth turned out as balanced as she did. We often forget that her father killed her mother, and she had to live with it, because her father was the king and she was his heir.


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