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From Lutheranism to Catholicism: The Faith of Anna of Denmark (1574–1619)

  • MAUREEN M. MEIKLE (a1) and HELEN M. PAYNE (a2)
Abstract

There has long been speculation about Anna of Denmark's faith. How and when the consort of King James VI and I came first to use the Catholic liturgy and then to convert from Lutheranism is explained here in detail. Powerful women within the queen's household were crucial to this change of faith, which gave hope to Catholics that Anna might convert her children and persuade the king to be more tolerant towards them in his multiple kingdoms. Even though these hopes were unrealised, the possibility is explored that she sought to found a monastery in France. That she had remained Catholic during such a turbulent era in British religious history is remarkable.

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1 NAS, E35/14, fo. 270; Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC, N.b. 48 (4); Papers relative to the marriage of James VI and Princess Anna of Denmark, ed. J. T. Gibson Craig (Bannatyne Club, 1828), appendix at pp. 27–9; Plenkers, W., ‘Er Frederik ii's datter Anna, Dronning af Storbrittanien, gaaet over til Katholicismen?’, Historisk Tiddskrift vi/1 (1887–8), 403–25 at p. 408.

2 Plenkers, ‘Er Frederik ii's datter Anna’, 403–25; Loomie, A. J., ‘King James i's Catholic consort’, Huntington Library Quarterly xxxiv (1970–1), 303–16.

3 A. Bellesheim, History of the Catholic Church of Scotland, Edinburgh 1887–90, iii. 347; Chadwick, H., ‘Crypto-Catholicism, English and Scottish’, The Month clxxviii (1942), 399; M. H. Fink, ‘Anne of Denmark’, unpubl. MA diss. Mississippi 1977, 27; cf. Loomie, ‘Catholic consort’, 304. Plenkers, ‘Er Frederik ii's datter Anna’, 412–13; Stevenson, J. H., ‘Anne of Denmark, queen of Great Britain’, The Month lxvi (1879), 256–65; A. W. Ward, Review of W. Plenkers, Er Frederick II's datter Anna Dronning of Storbritannien, gaaet over til Katholicismen?, Copenhagen 1888, EHR iii (1888), 797; and A. Strickland, Lives of the queens of England, London 1848, vii. 368.

4 CSPScot., x. 296–9; RPC v, pp. xli–xliv; D. Calderwood, History of the Kirk of Scotland by Mr. David Calderwood, ed. T. Thomson and D. Laing (Wodrow Society, 1842–9), v. 94–6; J. Spottiswoode, History of the Church of Scotland, ed. M. Russell and M. Napier (Spottiswoode Society, 1847–51), ii. 407–8.

5 Marriage of James VI, 54.

6 CSPScot., xi. 209; xii. 104, 108. Calendar of state papers relating to Ireland, ed. H. C. Hamilton and others, London 1860–1912, v. 174; CSPSpanish, iv. 142, 588, 590, 608, 652; Calderwood, History, v. 112; The letters of Richard Verstegan, ed. A. Petti (Catholic Record Society lii, 1959), 193; M. Barrett, Sidelights of Scottish history, Edinburgh 1918, 147.

7 Atherton, I. and Como, D., ‘The burning of Edward Wightman: Puritanism, prelacy and the politics of heresy in early modern England’, EHR cxx (2005), 1215–50.

8 CSPScot., x. 429, 591, 594; Marriage of James VI, appendix at pp. 27–9; R. Grant, ‘Politiking Jacobean women: Lady Ferniehirst, the countess of Arran and the countess of Huntly, c. 1580–1603’, in E. Ewan and M. M. Meikle (eds), Women in Scotland, c. 1100–c. 1750, East Linton 1999, 95–104.

9 ‘The Reverend Robert Abercromby, a Scotsman, to John Stuart, prior of the monastery at Ratisbon’, in Narratives of Scottish Catholics under Mary Stuart and James VI, ed. W. Forbes-Leith, Edinburgh 1885, 263; Plenkers, ‘Er Frederik ii's datter Anna’, 409–10.

10 Letters of Richard Verstegan, 196; Stevenson, ‘Anne of Denmark’, 259 n. 9.

11 CBP i. 490–1; CSPScot., x. 641, 650, 752, 780; xi. 22, 363, 370; cf. Bellesheim, Catholic Church, iii. 346, 452; Plenkers, ‘Er Frederik ii's datter Anna’, 407.

12 CSPScot., xi. 370; CSPVenice, viii, no. 933; The Warrender papers ed. A. I. Cameron (Scottish History Society, 1931–2), ii. 193–202; S. Doran, ‘Loving and affectionate cousins? The relationship between Elizabeth i and James vi of Scotland, 1586–1603’, in S. Doran and G. Richardson (eds), Tudor England and its neighbours, Basingstoke 2005, 203–43 at pp. 209–11; Questier, M., ‘The politics of religious conformity and the accession of James i’, Historical Research lxxi (1998), 1430 at pp. 20–1.

13 CSPScot., xiii. 782; G. P. V. Akrigg, The letters of James VI & I, Berkeley 1984, 103, 126–7; Calderwood, History, v. 94; Spottiswoode, History, ii. 409; F. de Borja Medina, ‘Intrigues of a Scottish Jesuit at the Spanish court’, in T. M. McCoog (ed.), The reckoned expense, Woodbridge 1996, 231; M. M. Meikle, ‘A meddlesome princess: Anna of Denmark and Scottish court politics, 1589–1603’, in J. Goodare and M. Lynch (eds), The reign of James VI, East Linton 2000, 126–40.

14 CSPScot., xii. 107; M. Lee, ‘King James's popish chancellor’, in I. B. Cowan and D. Shaw (eds), The Renaissance and Reformation in Scotland, Edinburgh 1983, 170–82.

15 NAS, GD124/10/70; CBP ii. 226; CSPScot., xi. 321, 359; xii. 107, 353, 398–9, 997; xiii. 353, 398–9, 758; RPC vi. 327n; BUK, 968; A. L. Juhala, ‘The household and court of King James vi of Scotland, 1567–1603’, unpubl. PhD diss. Edinburgh, 2000, 335; Macdonald, A. R., ‘Religious pluralism in Jacobean Scotland, 1567–1625’, Aberdeen University Review lviii (2000), 309–15 at p. 313; Seton, W., ‘The early years of Henry Frederick, prince of Wales and Charles, duke of Albany’, SHR xiii (1913), 369–70.

16 H. M. Payne, ‘Aristocratic women and the Jacobean court, 1603–1625’, unpubl. PhD diss. London, 2001, 229 n. 133.

17 Samuel Rawson Gardiner, History of England from the accession of James I to the outbreak of the Civil War, 1603–1642, London 1883–4, vii. 142.

18 Calendar of state papers domestic: addenda, ed. M. A. E. Green, London 1870–2, 1580–1625, 364–5; CSPScot, xii. 359–60; Plenkers, ‘Er Frederik ii's datter Anna’, 413–14; Scarisbrick, D., ‘Anne of Denmark's jewellery inventory’, Archaeologia cix (1991), 193238.

19 Christian Barnekow archiv, University of Lund, Letters A 2.1; CSPDom., Eliz. 1595–97, 36, 65, 391; CSPScot., xi. 561, 566, 569; HMC, Salisbury, vi. 512; Calderwood, History, v. 336; J. Colville, Original letters of Mr John Colville, 1582–1603, ed. D. Laing (Bannatyne Club, 1858), 150; T. M. McCoog, The Society of Jesus in Ireland, Scotland and England, 1541–1588, Leiden 1996, 178–23; Peters, R., ‘Some Catholic opinions of King James vi and i’, RH x (1970), 292303.

20 Acts of the parliaments of Scotland, ed. T. Thomson and C. Innes, Edinburgh 1814–75, iv. 174; CSPScot., x. 413, 792–3; xiii. 321; BUK, 827; Narratives of Scottish Catholics, 232–42; A. Roberts, ‘James Gordon, Jesuit’, ODNB. On the nuncio Sampiretti see M. Yellowlees, ‘So strange a monster as a Jesuite: the Society of Jesus in sixteenth-century Scotland, Colonsay 2003, 134.

21 CSPScot., xi. 83, 86, 91, 93, 97, 171, 176, 181, 375, 382, 563; xii. 134, 167, 296, 301–2, 317, 359–61, 404, 423, 423–4, 466; Calderwood, History, v. 250, 441–3.

22 CSPScot., xii. 105, 228; Calderwood, History, v. 417.

23 CSPScot., xii. 138, 149–51.

24 BUK, 873.

25 CBP ii. 185; Calderwood, History, v. 459–60.

26 CSPScot., xii. 368–9; RPC v. 327n. 335, 340.

27 CSPScot., xii. 385, 390, 429; CSPSpanish, iv. 604; HMC, Salisbury, vi. 540; Payne, ‘Aristocratic women’, 229 n. 133; Juhala, ‘Household and court’, 329.

28 CSPScot., xii. 487; CSPDom., Eliz. 1595–7, 65, 391, 520.

29 CBP ii. 504; CSPScot., xii.105; RPC v. 362.

30 CSPScot., xii. 105; xiii. 128, 161; RPC v. 542, 548n; BUK, 948; Calderwood, History, v. 728, 736.

31 CSPDom., Eliz. 1595–97, 494; 1598–1601, 189; CSPScot., xiii. 448.

32 CSPScot., xiii. 558. CSPSpanish, iv. 666, 689; CSPVenice, ix, nos 702, 889; Calderwood, History, iv. 398; v. 196–9, 227, 233, 333, 416; vi. 101; Colville letters, 203; Narratives of Scottish Catholics, 262–6, 272–4; Bellesheim, Catholic Church, iii. 347, 451–4; Ward review, Frederik II's datter, 796–7; Meyer, A. O., ‘Clemens und Jakob i von England’, Quellen und Forschungen aus Italienischen Archiven un Bibliotheken vii (1906), 273306; Murphy, G. M., ‘Robert Abercromby’, ODNB; Ward, A. W., ‘James vi and the papacy’, SHR ii (1905), 249–52; Warner, G. F., ‘James vi and Rome’, EHR xx (1905), 124–7.

33 CSPScot., xiii. 761, 941; Calderwood, History, vi. 101.

34 CSPDom., Eliz. 1598–1601, 189; P. G. Maxwell-Stuart, ‘The fear of the king is death: James vi and the witches of East Lothian’, in W. G. Naphy and P. Roberts (eds), Fear in early modern society, Manchester 1997, 209–25.

35 HMC, Salisbury, ix. 54; CSPScot., xiii. 619, 852; RPC vi. 161–2.

36 Folger Shakespeare Library, N.a.102, fos 1–15.

37 CSPScot., xiii. 997; BUK iii. 962, 964–5, 968–9, 1004.

38 CSPScot., xiii. 782, 789, 794, 802.

39 BL, ms Add. 37021, fos 25–6; CSPScot., xii. 424; xiii. 813–14, 835, 850–1; BUK, 965; Ancient criminal trials in Scotland, ed. R. Pitcairn (Bannatyne Club, 1833), ii/2, 340–7; Narratives of Scottish Catholics, 272–4; Shearman, F., ‘James Wood of Boniton’, Innes Review v/1 (1954), 2832; R. Winwood, Memorials of the affairs of state, London 1725, i. 326. Warner, ‘James vi and Rome’.

40 Danish National Archives, TKUA, AI/2; Juhala, ‘Household and court’, 362; Stevenson, ‘Anne of Denmark’, 259 n. 9.

41 CSPScot., xiii. 1150–2.

42 Calderwood, History, vi. 157.

43 Barrett, Sidelights, 208; Chadwick, ‘Crypto-Catholicism’, 392–8.

44 Antonia Fraser, The Gunpowder Plot: terror and faith in 1605, London 1996, 22–3; The travel diary (1611–1612) of an English Catholic, Sir Charles Somerset, ed. Michael G. Brennan, Leeds 1993, 7; cf. Fincham, Kenneth and Lake, Peter, ‘The ecclesiastical policy of King James i’, Journal of British Studies xxiv/2 (1985), 169207 at p. 185. For the situation at the court in Scotland see Patterson, W. B., James VI and I and the reunion of Christendom, Cambridge 1997, 1920.

45 Aveling, J. C. H., The handle and the axe, London 1976, 123–5; Fincham and Lake, ‘Ecclesiastical policy’, 169–207; McCullough, Peter, Sermons at court: politics and religion in Elizabethan and Jacobean preaching, Cambridge 1998, passim; Milton, Anthony, Catholic and reformed: the Roman and Protestant Churches in English Protestant thought, 1600–1640, Cambridge 1995, passim.

46 CSPScot., xiii. 1103; cf. Petti, Letters of Richard Verstegan, 196.

47 CSPVenice, x. 81. See also Christopher de Harlay, comte de Beaumont (French ambassador in England) to Nicolas de Neufville, seigneur de Villeroy (French secretary of state), 10 Feb. 1604, TNA, 31/3/37, fo. 39 (Baschet transcripts from French archives, Jan.–May 1604). For Fr Abercromby's version of this refusal see Narratives of Scottish Catholics, 265 n. 1.

48 Prince Henry, 5 Apr. 1607; Princess Elizabeth, 25 Mar. 1611; Prince Charles, 23 May 1616: Old cheque book, or book of remembrance, of the Chapel Royal, from 1561–1744, ed. Edward F. Rimbault (Camden n.s. iii, 1872), 171–3.

49 Patterson, James VI and I, 42, 43.

50 Draft letter in Secretary's hand (with notes in Cecil's hand), TNA SP 78/51, fos 12–17. For a transcription of the pertinent section of this letter see L. Hicks, ‘The embassy of Sir Anthony Standen in 1603’, pt 4, RH vii (1963), 52–6.

51 L. Hicks, ‘The embassy of Sir Anthony Standen in 1603’, pt 3, RH vi (1961–2), 175–80.

52 Ibid. 176. The bringing of such religious objects into England had been made an offence in 1570, under Richard ii's Statute of Praemunire [8.Elizabeth.I.c.2.VII]: Statutes at large, ii, London 1786, 573. See also Hicks, ‘Embassy’, pt 3, 191 n. 62.

53 Hicks, ‘Embassy’, pt 4, 50, 53.

54 SP 78/51, fo. 13v. See also Hicks, ‘Embassy’, pt 4, 54, and Patterson, James VI and I, 43 n. 57.

55 SP 78/51, fo. 13v (‘to serve himself’ appears to be written in Cecil's hand). See also Hicks, ‘Embassy’, pt 4, 54–5.

56 British Library, 846.n. 22 (the dedication has no pagination).

57 CSPVenice, x. 324–5.

58 Third Report of the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts (appendix), London 1872, repr. 1979, 264.

59 McCullough, Sermons, 169–82.

60 Exceptions are Samuel Rawson Gardiner in his History, ii. 225; vii, 142, and Loomie, ‘Catholic consort’, 308. Neither, however, takes the matter beyond brief comment.

61 Narratives of Scottish Catholics, 265 n. 1; Juhala, ‘Household and court’, 335.

62 McCullough, Sermons, 170, 169–73, 170.

63 Documentos ineditos para la historia de Espana: correspondencia oficiel de Don Diego Sarmiento de Acuna conde de Gondomar, Madrid 1936, i. 109. We are grateful to Simon Healy for translating letters in this publication from Spanish. Loomie interprets this report as ‘she would not go to the sacrament because she still assisted with King James at Protestant services’: ‘Catholic consort’, 312.

64 McCullough, Sermons, 174; Loomie, ‘Catholic consort, 313.

65 See Payne, ‘Aristocratic women’, 247–8.

66 For Matthew Harestanes (or Hasting) see n. 92 below.

67 Gardiner, History, ii. 225.

68 Simon Thurley, Somerset House: the palace of London's queens: 1551–1692 (London Topographical Society clxviii, 2009), 105. We are very grateful to Dr Thurley for his permission to include this information.

69 Narratives of Scottish Catholics, 265 n. 1.

70 McCullough, Sermons, 174.

71 See Simon Thurley, The royal palaces of Tudor England, New Haven 1993, 125–7.

72 SC 6/JasI/1646, fo. 21v; CSPDom., James I, 1603–1610, xii. 399, 401.

73 McCullough, Sermons, 174.

74 Documentos ineditos, i. 108–9.

75 East Sussex Record Office, ms Glynde 321, unfoliated.

76 Michael Walpole, A brief admonition to all English Catholikes, concerning a late proclamation set forth against them, St Omer 1610, sig. *2.

77 CSPVenice, xxii. 373, 382.

78 Narrative of the Spanish marriage treaty, ed and trans. Samuel Rawson Gardiner (Camden o.s. ci, 1869), 121 n. (a).

79 This had been suggested for the Savoyard princess in 1612: Logan Pearsall Smith, The life and letters of Sir Henry Wotton, Oxford 1907, i. 124.

80 Loomie, ‘Catholic consort’, 313.

81 Ibid. 308.

82 Newsletters from the archpresbyterate of George Birkhead, ed. Michael C. Questier (Camden 5th ser. xii, 1998), 201 n. 981.

83 Ibid. 200–1 n. 981, 242.

84 Ibid. 201 n. 981.

85 See Marie B. Rowlands, ‘Recusant women, 1560–1640’, in Mary Prior (ed.), Women in English society, 1500–1800, London 1985, 157.

86 Payne, ‘Aristocratic women’, 59–60, 236.

87 CSPVenice, xv. 6; Payne, ‘Aristocratic women’, 232, 236–8.

88 Documentos ineditos, i. 109.

89 The letters of John Chamberlain, ed. Norman Egbert McClure (American Philosophical Society Memoirs, 1939), xii/2, 45.

90 George Gerrard to Sir Dudley Carleton, 9 May 1917, SP 14/92/15. See also Payne, ‘Aristocratic women’, 59, 237–8.

91 Payne, ‘Aristocratic women’, 237.

92 Matthew Herstanes, another Bedchamber page, is possibly the ‘mr Hairsteins’ mentioned by the Catholic priest, John Nelson (Jackson), in Newsletters, 200–1.

93 The court and times of James the First, comp. Thomas Birch, London 1849, ii. 167. Birch mistranscribes ‘six and thirty thousand’ as £63,000 in The progresses, processions, and magnificent festivities of King James the First, his royal consort, family and court, ed. John Nichols, London 1828, iii. 548; Letters of John Chamberlain, xiii/2, 240.

94 BL, ms Add. 7082, fo. 46.

95 Ibid. fos 55, 52–4.

96 Evidence that Hugon had access to the queen's most private belongings is found in the inventories of Oatlands Palace: ms Glynde 320/11.

97 An ‘Agnus dei’ was ‘a little wax oval made from the remains of an Easter candle blessed at St Peter's by the Pope‘: Fraser, Gunpowder Plot, 24.

98 BL, ms Add. 7082, fos 53–4.

99 Ibid. fo. 52v. I am grateful to Dr Sonya Wynne for her assistance in translating this note.

100 8.Elizabeth I.c.s.VII: Statutes at large, London 1786, ii. 573.

101 ‘Madame the quein's death, and manor thairof’, Miscellany of the Abbotsford Club (Abbotsford Club, 1837), i. 81.

102 Herbert to Carleton, London, Monday 26 Aug. 1619, SP 14/110/10.

103 Ibid.

104 Narratives of Scottish Catholics, 264.

105 Barbara Kiefer Lewalski, Writing women in Jacobean England, Cambridge, Ma.1993, 334n. Lewalski's source is ‘Madame the quein's death’, i. 79–83 at p. 81.

106 Payne, ‘Aristocratic women’, 243–4.

107 C. H. Carter, Secret diplomacy of the Spanish Hapsburgs, 1598–1625, New York– London 1964, 127–8; Loomie, Albert J., ‘Toleration and diplomacy: the religious issue in Anglo-Spanish relations, 1603–1605’, Transactions of the American Philosophical Society n.s. liii/6 (1963), 360 at p. 54; Payne, ‘Aristocratic women’, 232–5, 236–7.

108 Narrative of the Spanish marriage treaty, 103ff; Carter, Secret diplomacy, 127–8. For an instance of the king's rebuttal of her attempt to arrange an audience for the Spanish ambassador with him in February 1614 see CSPVenice, xiii. 92–3.

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