• May 15, 2016

Anne Boleyn Glossary of Terms

Tower of London—Originally built by William the Conquerer (1066-1087) to function as a fortress-stronghold in the Norman’s newly conquered England. Its use as a prison and a location for torture and execution increased during the Tudor reign.

Sassanach—derived from the Scottish Gaelic word sasunnach, which meant “Saxon”, sassanach means English or an English person.

Presbyterians—Presbyterian-style churches were run by a select group of elected presbyters (Greek for ‘elder’), similar to a board of directors. 

Masque—During the Tudor period, masques were short theatrical performances with music and dance. They were performed by masked players—usually members of the Tudor court—who represented mythological or allegorical figures. The traditional masque theme was usually classical, allegorical or symbolic in nature, and complimentary to the noble or royal host.

Barge—a large, flat-bottomed boat, used to carry goods or passengers on rivers and canals. Many of the royal residences were located along the River Thames in London, and one could travel by barge to any of them.

York House—Was the London residence of the Archbishops of York since 1245. Cardinal Wolsey significantly rebuilt York House into a sizeable palace. When Wolsey fell out of favor with the king, Henry VIII acquired York Place and renamed it Whitehall Palace.

Legatine Court—Legatine means ‘directed or authorized by a legate’. Legate is a word for an official representative of the pope.

Privy Chamber—The private section of the royal residences in England. Members of the Privy Chamber were servants of the crown who provided companionship, counsel or housekeeping.

The sweating sickness—Though less infamous than the Plague, the sweating sickness was a mysterious and terrifying ailment that afflicted a good number of people in 15th and 16th century England. It was known for its high and quick mortality rate—many would die within 24 hours of displaying symptoms, which included flu-like shivers and a raging fever. Today the exact cause is still unknown.

Lancelot and Guinevere—Two famous players in Arthurian legend, who had a passionate and adulterous love affair under King Arthur’s nose.

Settle—An old-fashioned piece of furniture, with a long wooden seat and a high back.

The Holy See—The ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, which also acts a sovereign and independent entity. The Holy See speaks for entire Church.

Bishops and Divines—Bishops are leaders of the Anglican Church of England, very similar to the Catholic bishops. Divine refers to any Anglican theologian whose written work is widely considered to be a standard of the faith. There is no definitive list of who is considered a Divine, since it is not an official ranked role like Bishop is.

Fleet Prison—A historic and notorious London prison. Wardens of Fleet prison routinely abused their post, and the prison conditions were deplorable.

Receiver General—An officer responsible for accepting payments on behalf of a government and for making payments to a government on behalf of other parties.

Master of the King’s Jewel House—Responsible for running the Jewel House, which houses the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London

Chancellor of the Exchequer—Head of the Royal Treasury.


Tyburn—Tyburn was a village that was notorious for its gallows, where many London executions took place. In 1571 the “Tyburn Tree”—a three-sided gallows—was erected, and was once used to execute 24 prisoners at once.

Fortune’s Wheel—A concept originating in medieval and ancient philosophy, concerning the unpredictable nature of fate. The wheel belonged to a Roman goddess named Fortuna. She was eventually Christianized as Lady Fortune.