"Anne regards me as her jester and entertainer, a singer and player who can dispel bad moods and bring amusement–but I had not imagined being in the service of a peevish, moody woman who wants nothing but to become Henry's queen."
—Elinor Valjean[3]

Elinor Freeman (née Valjean; born February 20, 1514) was the daughter of Eva De Puebla and Michel Valjean. She became a Lady of Court when she reached age thirteen. Elinor worked as a lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon, before being transferred to Anne Boleyn's household. She married Tom Freeman in 1531.


Early life

Elinor was born February 20, 1514[2] in London, England. She was the second child of Spaniard Eva De Puebla and Frenchman Michel Valjean. She had a older sister, Rosanna, and two younger brothers, Daniel and William. Elinor also had an older brother, who died before reaching the age of one.

She spent her formative years at court, assisting her sister and mother in Queen Catherine of Aragon's household. Elinor also harbored a secret wish of becoming a court jester, like her father.

1525 – 1536


A young Eva, Elinor's mother

In 1525, Elinor began writing a diary. She did not start writing regularly, until she became an official court lady in 1527 at the age of thirteen. The following year, she was ordered to leave Catherine's household to become a lady-in-waiting to Anne Boleyn. Boleyn had caught the interest of King Henry VIII, but refused to become his mistress. Anne was sent away to Hever, while a trial was held in Westminster for Henry to annul his marriage to Catherine. At Hever, Elinor met a local blacksmith, named Tom Freeman.

In 1530, Elinor moved with Anne's household to Whitehall Palace. She was also joined by Tom, who had since been hired as Anne's personal blacksmith. Later that year, Tom proposed to Elinor and they married the following month on January 12, 1531. The court left Queen Catherine behind that summer, and Elinor was once again separated from her mother and sister. On June 26, 1532, Elinor gave birth to her first child, Michael Freeman, who was named after her father.

The following year, Henry finally annulled his marriage to Catherine and married Anne, who was subsequently crowned Queen. Elinor's brothers came to live with her, when many of Catherine's servants were dismissed that winter. In late March 1534, Elinor gave birth to a daughter, Maria Freeman, named after Maria de Salinas. Two years later, Elinor witnessed the downfall of Anne Boleyn, who was accused of adultery and beheaded. Shortly after Anne's execution, Elinor left court with her family to live a normal life in the countryside.

1536 – 1548


Elinor's foster daughter, Beatrice

Elinor and Eva became friends with Beatrice Townhill, whose family owned the cottage they rented, shortly after moving. Beatrice visited them often and Elinor later allowed her to borrow her diary. On February 19, 1537, Elinor gave birth to her child, Isabella "Bella". She was named after Catherine of Aragon's mother, Queen Isabella. Following the deaths of Beatrice's parents in 1539, Elinor and Eva adopted her.

In April 1542, Beatrice married Elinor's youngest brother Will, followed by her other brother Daniel to a girl, Alice in September. After the first wedding, Elinor and her family moved into a large house with Beatrice and Will. Daniel stayed in the cottage and took over Tom's horse-shoeing business, while Tom pursued his dreams of making decorative ironwork. Beatrice later gave birth to Joanna and Rodrigo, Elinor's niece and nephew.

Personality and traits

During her childhood, Elinor wished she had been born a boy and dreamed of becoming a court jester like her father. Elinor was especially talented with music and dancing, which she had inherited from her father. Anne regarded her more as a court jester, and often had Elinor perform for her. Elinor, unlike her mother, was terrible at embroidery work, but eventually learned to sew a straight line.

Family tree

The Valjean-Freeman Family Tree
(including De Puebla and Townhill relatives)
Rodrigo De Puebla
(d. 1509)
Bianca De Puebla
Gonsalvo De Puebla
Mr. De Puebla
(d. 1498)
Anna De Puebla
Miguel De Puebla
Eva De Puebla
(b. 1486)
Michel Valjean
(d. 1528)
Mr. Townhill
(d. 1539)
Mrs. Townhill
(d. 1539)
Rosanna Valjean
(b. 1510)
Diego Luiz
de Frontera
Elinor Valjean
(b. 1514)
Tom Freeman
Daniel Valjean
(b. 1518)
William Valjean
(b. 1521)
Beatrice Townhill
(b. 1526)
John de Frontera
(b. 1530)
Michael Freeman
(b. 1532)
Maria Freeman
Isabella Freeman
(b. 1537)
Joanna Valjean
(b. 1544)
Rodrigo Valjean
(b. 1547)

Behind the scenes



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