On 1 June 1533 Anne Boleyn was crowned Queen of England. She had already been the wife of King Henry VIII since January and the object of his admiration for more than seven years.
Anne Boleyn was born between 1501 and 1507. Yet 1499 and 1512 have also been mentioned as birth years.
Anne's father was a diplomat at Henry's court. She was sent abroad for her education: first to the Burgundian Netherlands (now Belgium) and later to France. In Belgium she served the Archduchess Margaret who was very much impressed with the girl's cleverness and good manners.
After about a year Anne was sent to France to be a maid of honour to Queen Mary and later to her stepdaughter Queen Claude. With Claude she stayed nearly seven years. There, she had the opportunity to learn French perfectly, to acquire knowledge on etiquette, to study music, art, fashion and religious literature and poetry. As a Courtier, she naturally learned about French culture, courtly love, dancing and games of cards and dice.
Anne Boleyn made her first appearance at the English court at the Chateau Vert (French: "Green Castle"), a pageant on 4 March 1522. She played the part of "Perseverance". Her looks were quite different to the Tudor beauty ideals 'pale and fair haired': she had thick dark hair, dark eyes and not very pale skin. The habits and French style Anne brought with her were exotic at the English court and helped to make her a centre of attention.
In a time when women still wore the heavy Gable Hood she introduced the light and (by English standards) coquettish French Hood. The women at court followed Anne's example and the new fashion soon set aside the Gable Hood favoured by Queen Katherine of Aragon.
The form of the Gable Hood looks like a house with walls down the sides of the face and a gable roof framing the forhead, therefore the name. This hood reaches down to the chin and shows not a bit of the hairline. With its ling fabric veil flowing over the back it covers the hair completely. The gable was usually decorated with pearls and trimming. The French Hood, however, is a crescent shaped headdress. It sits on the highest point of the head and reveals much of the hair. The shape rises slightly from the head in the shape of a crown or tiara. It still covers the ears and the long hair at the back, but take it all in all it is the most baring headpiece (which even married women could wear) for many centuries.
The cessation of the Gable Hood fashion and the exchange for the French Hood are like an ironic parallel to their mistresses: the dawn of King Henry's admiration for Anne and her rise, and the overthrow of Queen Katherine following the anullment of her marriage to the King. After Queen Anne Boleyn had fallen into disgrace and had been executed in 1536, her successor, pious and demure Jane Seymour, reintroduced the Gable Hood.
© Nina Möller