Anne Boleyn's Heraldry

For most of her life, Anne's arms were simple; she bore the arms of Bullen on a lozenge, reflecting her simple status as Mistress Anne Boleyn. (The family name was originally Bullen; it became Frenchified by the early- to mid-1520s.)

When in 1529 her father became Earl of Wiltshire and Ormonde and she became Lady Anne Rochford, however, Anne adopted a shield reflecting her father and her mother's ancestry. Strictly, she did not have the hereditary right to bear any of her mother's quarterings as Elizabeth Boleyn (née Howard) was not an heiress, but the quarterings of Butler (first quarter and the source of her father's claim to the Earldom of Ormonde), Brotherton (second quarter, indicating Anne's royal ancestry through her mother), Rochford (third quarter, reflecting her father's title of Viscount Rochford) and Warenne (the source of the Howard title of Earl of Surrey, that of Duke of Norfolk being their own; again, through Anne's mother) made a clear statement. Anne was emphasising her noble lineage and her royal blood - in other words, her fitness to be queen consort of England.

When on 1 September 1532 Anne was created Lady Marquess of Pembroke, this was also the message. Such a title, granted to a woman in her own right, was totally unprecedented; and given its prior association with the Tudors, it had royal associations. It seems, though, that at some point between her creation and her marriage she was granted three royal augmentations to her arms; the arms of Lancaster (the three lions of England on a red background, with a blue, three-pointed label with three gold fleur-de-lys on each point), Angoulême (the old French arms with a gold semée-de-lys, or scattering of fleur-de-lys, on a blue background and a red, three-pointed label) and Guyenne (red with one lion in the English style). These formed the first three quarters of Anne's new arms. Butler and Rochford were quartered in the fourth, while the fifth and sixth contained Brotherton and Warenne respectively. Four out of the seven quarterings in this coat now referred to royalty!

Upon her marriage, Anne impaled the arms of Henry VIII (France and England quartered) on a shield, as befitted a queen consort. This was the coat which she used until her fall in 1536.

Contemporary Drawing of Anne's Arms as Queen.
© College of Arms. Scanned by Douglas Dowell.

Arms of Anne Boleyn at Hampton Court.
© HM the Queen.
Scanned by Douglas Dowell.

Heraldry and the Boleyns