'Unmarried women sometimes wore their hair loose and flowing, which normally married women never did, though Cranmer wrote that Anne Boleyn came 'in her hair' to her coronation. Unmarried working-class women wore their hair flowing over their shoulders and fastened only by a ribbon; but married working-class women covered their hair with a simple linen headdress' - Jasper Ridley, The Tudor Age.
The majority of women pre-1530s wore gable hoods like this:
But Anne Boleyn brought into fashion the French hood:
As you can see, both cover all the hair at the back but the French hood allows the front of the hair to be seen.
So no, Tudor women would rarely show all their hair if they were married, apart from the 1530s onwards when they would show a small amount under a hood or all of their hair if they were unmarried.
Really the women in The Tudors should have worn hoods once they were married. And some of the headresses that appeared were more the costume designers having a bit of fun rather than being even vaguely historically accurate. As much as it pains me to say it, The Other Boleyn Girl was closer to reality than The Tudors when it comes to married women’s hair. But don’t watch The Other Boleyn Girl. Ever. Stick with The Tudors, because personally I think that’s the best one.
Thanks for the question :)
Look what arrived in the post! A 1877 translation of Sander’s book. As you can see, I’ve already stumbled upon the extract which horrifies any Anne Boleyn supporter. But it is still lovely to actually own such an old book.
This depends on which source you believe. Lancelot de Carles, a member of the French embassy, was in England at the time and he says that ‘one of her ladies in tears came forward to do the last office and cover her face with a linen cloth’. However, he was not present at her execution, so he must have heard this somehow. Another source, who is believed to have been present, says that ‘one of her ladies covered her eyes with a bandage’.
A different and rather famous account claims the following story: ‘The sword was hidden under a heap of straw, and the man who was to give it to the headsman was told beforehand what to do; so, in order that she should not suspect, the headsman turned to the steps by which they had mounted, and called out, ‘Bring me the sword.’ The lady looked towards the steps to watch for the coming of the sword… and the headsman… without being noticed by the lady, he struck her head off.’ There is no mention of any blindfold, and the idea that she looked to try and see the sword being brought also suggests she was not. However, this source is unreliable and has factual inaccuracies in other parts, and therefore is not as trustworthy as the others.
Personally, I would say yes, she was blindfolded. It is very unlikely that anyone being executed by sword, as she was, would be left unblindfolded. This is because she was in a kneeling position and if she could actually see the sword coming at her out of the corner of her eye, there would be a very high (and understandable) risk that she would flinch and possibly make the executioner miss.
Thank you for the question :)
I’ve just seen that I’ve passed a bit of a landmark in my follower count!
Thank you to everyone for putting up with my irregular posting!
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Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn
By David Wilkie Wynfield
Oil on canvas, 1865
Prisoners entered the Tower of London at this point: Traitors Gate.
They were brought to the Tower by barge along the Thames, passing under London Bridge, where the heads of the recently executed were on display.
Anne Boleyn’s coronation cost Henry VIII about £46,000 in 1533.
That’s approximately £15 million in today’s money.