Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Today in History: The Execution of Anne Boleyn

Anne was executed on a scaffolding erected on the north side of the White Tower, in front of what is now the Waterloo Barracks on May 19Th, 1536. Before she was executed She spoke and was quoted saying:

"Good Christian people, I am come hither to die, for according to the law, and by the law I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it. I am come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak
anything of that, whereof I am accused and condemned to die, but I pray God save the king and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never: and to me he was ever a good, a gentle and sovereign lord. And if any person will meddle of my cause, I require them to judge the best. And thus I take my leave of the world and of you all, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me. O Lord have mercy on me, to God I commend my soul"

Anne Boleyn is one of Histories most prolific women. Born ahead of her time and destined to become a doomed Queen. It has been concluded by historians that Anne did not have
a sixth finger and it was quite possible she was Rh negative. For those of you who do not know what Rh negative you can read more about it here. Her body was found during renovations done by Queen Victoria and they found her hands were slim and normal.

She was highly educated and was an opinionated woman. Growing up she had spent time abroad as Margaret of Austria's maid of honour. Later she was sent to France to attend King Henry VIII's sister, Mary Tudor, for Mary's marriage to Louis XII of France. Her father recalled her back home in January 1522 for a marriage to her cousin that would never take place.

In 1526 King Henry began his pursuit, but as it happened her sister Mary was recently dismissed from being his mistress after having his children. It was even rumored that Henry had had relations with the girls mother also. King Henry VIII empowered Anne with his undying lust for her & thus she became a powerful force to be reckoned with. Henry had dismissed his pious catholic first wife Catherine of Aragon. Catherine was formally stripped of her title as Queen and banished from court. Their only child Mary was proclaimed to be a bastard. Anne was consequently crowned on June 1, 1533. She was a lavish Queen who had a taste for enjoying the finer things in life. . There were over two hundred and fifty servants to tend to her personal needs, everyone from priests to stable-boys. There were over 60 maids-of-honour who served her and accompanied her to social events.

Anne was key in the driving force behind the separation of England from Rome. It is said because of her experiences in France that she was a devote Christan in the new tradition of Renaissance humanism. While she would later hold the reformist position that the papacy was a corrupting influence on Christianity. The Catholic church at the time had laid an unbroken "cloth of Christendom" all over the known modern world. At that time men of the church only had to awnser to one man the pope, who spoke for god. Anne brought the reformist position to the table. Why should the priest not awnser to the king first, they live in his country, on his land, serve him, & yet they did not awnser to him. A bonus for Henry was the church had a lot of money & goods that could be confiscated by the crown. Then he would be supreme authority over the church of England not Rome. Parliament declared Henry "the only supreme head on earth of the Church of England". Leaving him with no one to awnser to but god himself.

Elizabeth, Anne and King Henry's only child was born on September 7Th 1533 at Greenwich palace. She was named after Henry's mother Elizabeth of York who was the only woman to be mother, wife, & daughter of the crown. Anne's downfall began around when Catherine of Aragon died and her heart was said to have been blackened by poison, Anne being blamed for her death. Modern doctors concluded she died from heart disease, which was not understood then. The King and new queen wore yellow head to toe to celebrate Catherine's passing. Anne found she was pregnant again after having up to three previous miscarriages, she was desperate to have a son. Her life depended on providing an heir to the throne. Later that month, the King was unhorsed in a joust tournament and knocked unconscious for two hours, a worrying incident that Anne believed led to her miscarriage five days later. Given Henry's desperate desire for a son, the sequence of Anne's pregnancies has attracted much interest. While Anne recovered from the miscarriage Henry declared that he had been seduced into the marriage by means of "sortilege" which is a French term for either "deception" or "spells". He quickly moved his new mistress Jane Seymour in and refused her brother George The Order of the Garter.

It all went downhill so quickly from there. Mark Smeaton was a Flemish musician in
Anne's employment, he was arrested and tortured for having carnal knowledge of the queen. Followed by Henry Norris, Sir Francis Weston, & William Brereton were all arrested. All Innocent men used as a scape goat for king Henry to be rid of Anne. The most despicable is George, her brother. Accused of two counts of incest, treason, adultery, and he was arrested. Anne was taken to the tower of London on May 2ND 1536. Once in the tower she collapsed and went into hysterics. She and the other men were all tried and found guilty of plotting the king's death, to ostensibly marry one of them afterwards. Henry himself issued the crucial instructions: his officials, including Cromwell, carried them out. They broke Anne's moral character and although the evidence against them was unconvincing, the accused were found guilty and condemned to death. George Boleyn and the other accused men were executed on May 17Th 1536. The King commuted Anne's sentence from burning to beheading and sent for a swordsman for the execution, quick and painless, one strike only. When They came for her on the morning of May 19Th she wore a red petticoat under a loose, dark grey gown of damask trimmed in fur and a mantle of ermine to her own execution.

For further reading on Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth, and Elizabeth of York, my favorite Author Robin Maxwell has written some amazing books called Mademoiselle Boleyn, Secret Diary, Virgin Prelude to the Throne, Queens Bastard, and Tower Born.

Within the Tower of London there is a monument to commemorate the two English Queens consort and five other British nobles who were executed by beheading. It is a beautiful made glass pillow on a circular platform, Anne and the others names are etched in the rim of glass. Anne in my eyes was a heroine and I am sympathetic to her case. She did what she thought was right, even thought it might not have been right. With out her who knows what the world would have been like today if king Henry had not moved heaven and earth to be with her.


  1. Excellent post. But what a dreadful day...

  2. Great post and congratulations on yoru Kreativ Blogger award.
    As well as the Robin Maxwell novels, I absolutely love reading the Anne Boleyn biographies of Eric Ives, Retha Warnicke and Joanna Denny. They all have something different to say and different viewpoints on Anne.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...