After serving at two European courts as a child and teenager (with Margaret of Austria and Claude of France), Anne was recalled to England in 1521 by her father, most likely because of her impending betrothal to her Irish cousin, James Butler. Although this betrothal fell apart for unknown reasons, very little is known about that short amount of time Anne spent at home with her family. Of course, her sister Mary, already disgraced at the French court and having returned to serve Queen Katherine of Aragon, was the king's beloved mistress. Where did Anne fit in at this time of transition? Well, she would go to court, of course! She would join her sister in the queen's service. After her years of training at some of the finest courts on the continent, Anne's family would have had no reason to worry about the impression she would make at Henry's court, but I doubt they expected just how much she would stand out (in a good way!)
It is unclear how long she had been at court before this day in 1522, but this was the day that Anne was included in a special celebration. On Shrove Tuesday, the Chateau Vert pageant was held - an ornate masque held in the Great Hall at York Place (later Whitehall Palace). This was likely not Anne's actual debut at court, so the title of this post is a little misleading, but it IS the first time we have a record of her - thanks to chronicler Edward Hall.
It seems that the Showtime show did a pretty good job of illustrating this scene in history. As Edward Hall describes, each lady had her virtue embroidered in gold onto her dress, and she wore a matching headpiece. Of course, there was more to it than what we saw in the show. In fact, there were also "bad" characters in the pageant. While the Virtues were in the towers of the castle, they were being guarded by eight ladies dressed as Indian women and called: Danger, Disdain, Jealousy, Unkindness, Scorn, Malebouche, and Strangeness. While the "good" ladies were being held captive, eight lord dressed in cloth of gold and blue satin stormed the castle to save them. These men were: Ardent Desire (the leader), Amorous, Nobleness, Youth, Attendance, Loyalty, Pleasure, Gentleness, and Liberty. The lords threw various fruits at the castle in an effort to save the Virtues, and the Virtues defended the castle with rosewater and sweet meats. Once the guarding ladies fled the castle, the lords each took a Virtue and led her out to dance.
Of course, as good as The Tudors was at bringing this scene to life, it probably did not unfold in history as it did in the show. Henry VIII, as I said, was besotted with Anne's sister, Mary Boleyn (who is strangely absent from the scene in the show), and therefore would have been focused on her more than any other lady in the pageant. Whereas Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Natalie Dormer first lay eyes on each other in this scene (and presumably fall in love), it would not have happened this way in real life. Anne was there, certainly, and by all accounts she played her part well, but she would not have caught Henry's attention as we are led to believe by The Tudors. Nevertheless, Anne's participation in the Chateau Vert pageant did help her become noticed by other gentlemen at court. This is the point when Anne's name began circling throughout court and men began to take an interest in her. Eric Ives describes that shortly after this event, men were coming into the queen's chambers - but only to speak with Anne, and to flirt. It is easy to see, because of this, why Henry's eye would be drawn to her a few years later, and once he had tired of her sister. All in all, despite the fact that Anne and Henry did not fall head over heels in love on THIS day in history, it was a momentous and important event in her court career.