Anne Boleyn's musical life through an examination of Rcm MS 1070
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Rcm MS 1070 has fascinated and perplexed musicologists since the 1960s. The manuscript which contains some of the most well-known examples of French court motets and French chansons has received special attention due to the signature of England’s most infamous queen, Anne Boleyn, in the altus of one of these motets. Although Anne Boleyn is a notable historical figure whose musical abilities have been widely remarked upon, little is known about her musical life. Rcm MS 1070, also known as Anne Boleyn’s Music Book, offers insight for scholarship surrounding Anne Boleyn’s musical education and tastes. Consequently, musicologists have debated on the origins of the manuscript, how Boleyn could have come to own it, and what it tells us about her musical activity. Through an examination of the previous scholarship and of the thematic contents of the manuscript, I demonstrate that Rcm MS 1070 was likely a gift to Anne Boleyn from Marguerite d’Alçenon upon her return to England to marry James Butler, Earl of Ormonde. The manuscript, which is filled with pieces that are strongly connected to books of hours, was meant to be pedagogical for Anne by reminding her of her duties as wife and mother and was meant instruct her future court musicians by transmitting the greatest French court motets of the time from Paris to England.