Susan Higginbotham Book Tour Day 4

I am honoured to host Day Four of author Susan Higginbotham’s book tour for her new book “Margaret Pole: The Countess in the Tower”. Susan Higginbotham is a lawyer and author who currently resides in North Carolina, USA. She is the author of five successful historical fiction books set in Lancastrian and Tudor England. Susan is also the author of the non-fiction books ‘The Woodvilles: The Wars of the Roses and England’s Most Infamous Family’ and her latest book ‘Margaret Pole: The Countess in the Tower”. Susan has kindly written an article about Margaret Pole’s time as Governess to Mary Tudor…..

Margaret Pole The Countess in the Tower

 Royal Governess

Just two months after establishing his out-of-wedlock son Henry Fitzroy in the North, Henry sent Mary to the Welsh Marches, where the nine-year-old princess was to preside over the Council of Wales and the Marches. If not an explicit admission that Mary was to be Henry’s heir, it certainly sent that message: both Edward IV and Henry VII had sent their heirs, the ill-fated Edward V and Prince Arthur, to reside in the Marches once they passed through the earliest stages of childhood. Presiding over the princess’s household of over three hundred servants would be Margaret, alongside Mary’s steward, Lord Ferrers, and her chamberlain, Lord Dudley. With expenses totalling nearly £4,500 per year, Mary’s household was a splendid one.

As Edward IV had done when sending his heir to Wales, Henry VIII set out a detailed set of instructions regulating his daughter’s household at Ludlow. Margaret had the daunting task of overseeing ‘all such things as concern the person of the said princess, her noble education and training in all virtuous demeanor’. The women around the princess were to ‘use themselves sadly [decorously], honourably, virtuously and discreetly in words, countenance, gesture, behaviour and deed with humility, reverence, lowliness .  . . so as of them proceed no manner of example of evil or unfitting manner or conditions, but rather of good and godly behaviour’. No detail of the young princess’s day-to-day routine was left to chance. Mary was to learn Latin and French, to practice on her virginals and other musical instruments, to dance, to take exercise in the open air, and eat meat that was ‘pure, well-prepared, dressed and served, with comfortable, joyous, and merry communication in all honourable and virtuous manner’.

Our view of Mary is indelibly coloured by her grim adolescence, when she was caught between warring parents, by the burnings of hundreds of Protestants during her reign as queen, and by her sad last years, during which she suffered two false pregnancies and pined for an absent husband who took only a polite interest in her.  As a nine-year-old, however, she was lively, intelligent, and attractive, with an apparent gift for courtly banter. Giles Duwes, Mary’s former French tutor, writing after the household had disbanded, remembered an incident when Mary, following what the tradition of drawing Valentines, picked the name of her gout-stricken treasurer, Sir Ralph Egerton. Young Mary referred to the older man as her ‘husband adoptive’ and scolded him for taking better care of his gout than he did of his wife (i.e., Mary herself).  She then requested that Egerton teach her the full definition of love. In another incident recounted by Duwes, Mary scolded her almoner for not joining the household at dinner, reminding him that incidentally that she had praised his French and that he had assured her ‘within a year I should speak as good or better than you’.

***

Mario Savorgnano, a Venetian visitor, paid a call upon Mary’s household in August 1531, leaving us not only with a description of the princess, but of the Countess of Salisbury, her governess, as well. He wrote:

We next went to another palace, called Richmond, where the Princess, her daughter, resides; and having asked the maggiordomo for permission to see her, he spoke to the chamberlain, and then to the governess, and they made us wait. Then after seeing the palace we returned into a hall, and having entered a spacious chamber where there were some venerable old men with whom we discoursed, the Princess came forth accompanied by a noble lady advanced in years, who is her governess, and by six maids of honour. We kissed her hand, and she asked us how long we had been in England, and if we had seen their Majesties, her father and mother, and what we thought of the country; she then turned to her attendants, desiring them to treat us well, and withdrew into her chamber. This Princess is not very tall, has a pretty face, and is well proportioned with a very beautiful complexion, and is 15 years old. She speaks Spanish, French, and Latin, besides her own mother-English tongue, is well grounded in Greek, and understands Italian, but does not venture to speak it. She sings excellently, and plays on several instruments, so that she combines every accomplishment. We were then taken to a sumptuous repast, after which we returned to our lodging, whither, according to the fashion of the country, the Princess sent us a present of wine and ale (which last is another beverage of theirs), and white bread.

Savorgnano’s description of the attractive, courteous, and well-educated Mary did credit to both the countess and her charge. But all was not well in the well-run and hospitable household. It had not been in some time.

Mary_Tudor_by_Horenbout

Mary Tudor

Thank you so much Susan! If you would like to learn more about Susan Higganbotham you can visit her Website or view her books on Amazon.

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The Death of Mary Tudor

The Death of Mary Tudor

Mary’s cause of death is unknown. It has been suggested that she may have suffered from angina. Mary had been ill for some time and several years earlier had complained of a constant pain in her side. Another suggestion for the reason for Mary’s death was the grief over her brother’s dismissal of Katherine of Aragon and marriage to Anne Boleyn. However it would seem that despite the current events of the time Mary still loved her brother as in she wrote him a letter in June shortly before her death stating she

“Has been very sick “and ele ates” (ill at ease). Has been fain to send for Master Peter the physician, but is rather worse than better. Trusts shortly to come to London with her husband. Is sure, if she tarries here, that she will never “asperre the sekenys.” Will be glad to see the King, as she has been a great while out of his sight, and hopes not to be so long again”. (Letters & Papers Vol. 6 693)

 As Dowager Queen of France and Duchess of Suffolk Mary Tudor’s funeral was a lavish affair. Her body was embalmed and for three weeks Mary’s coffin, draped in deep blue or black velvet, lay in estate at Westophe, candles burning day and night. On the 10th July Henry VIII ordered a Requiem Mass to be held for his sister at Westminster Abbey. A delegation was sent from France and joined the English delegation for Mary’s funeral on the 20th July 1533. Mary was to be interned at Bury St Edmunds and her chief mourner was her daughter Francis who was accompanied by her husband and her brother Henry, Earl of Lincoln. Also attending the funeral was Mary’s youngest daughter Eleanor and her ward Katherine Willoughby.

For the journey from Westrophe to the Abbey Church at Bury St Edmund’s, Mary’s coffin was placed upon a hearse draped in black velvet embroidered with Mary’s arms and her motto “the will of God is sufficient for me”. The coffin was covered in a pall of black cloth of gold and atop of this was an effigy of Mary wearing robes of estate, a crown and a golden sceptre which signified Mary’s status as Dowager Queen of France. The hearse was drawn by six horses wearing black cloth and the coffin was covered by a canopy carried by four of Brandon’s Knights. Surrounding the coffin standard bearers carried the alms of the Brandon and Tudor families.

At the head of the procession walked one hundred torch bearers who were comprised of members of the local community who were paid and dressed in black for the funeral. Next came members of the clergy who carried the cross. After them came the household staff followed by the six horses pulling the hearse. Behind the hearse followed the Knights and other noble men in attendance followed by one hundred of the Duke’s yeomen. Lastly came Mary’s daughter Francis, the chief mourner and the other ladies including Eleanor and Katherine Willoughby and Mary’s friends and relatives. Along the way the funeral procession was joined by other members of the local parishes.

At two o’clock on the afternoon Mary’s coffin was received at Bury St Edmund by the abbot and the monks. The coffin was then placed before the high alter and surrounded by the mourners in order of precedence and a mass was said. Afterward a supper was held for the noble members of Mary’s funeral entourage.

Overnight eight women, twelve men, thirty yeomen and some of the clergy were appointed to watch over Mary’s body. The next day a requiem mass was sung and Mary’s daughters, her two step daughters, her ward Katherine Willoughby and Katherine’s mother brought forward palls of cloth of gold to the alter. The funeral address was conducted by William Rugg and the officers of Mary’s household broke their white staffs and finally Mary was interned. Mary’s body lay at peace at Bury St Edmund until 1784; her remains were disturbed again when her altar monument was removed because it obstructed the approach to the rails of the communion table. Her resting place is now marked by a slab on the floor.

Mary_Tudor_and_Charles_Brandon2

Sources:

Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VIII, 1509-47, ed. J.S Brewer, James Gairdner and R.H Brodie, His Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1862-1932.

Loades, David 2012, Mary Rose, Amberley, Gloucestershire.

Sadlack, Erin 2001, The French Queen’s Letters, Palgrave Macmillan, New York.

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Catherine of Aragon’s Famous Speech

21st June 1529: Catherine of Aragon’s Famous Speech

On this day in history Queen Catherine of Aragon gave a passionate speech to her husband King Henry VIII at the Legatine Court at Blackfriars. The Legatine Court was set up to examine the validity of King Henry VIII’s marriage to Queen Catherine of Aragon. The court was presided over by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey from England and Cardinal Campeggio, the Popes representative from Rome. At the opening of the court Henry VIII declared his love for Catherine but also his concerns about the validity of their marriage as he felt he had disobeyed God by marrying his brother’s widow. When it came turn for Catherine to speak she did not stand and defend herself to the Court, instead she went to Henry and fell to her knees before him saying….

“Sir, I beseech you for all the love that hath been between us, and for the love of God, let me have justice. Take of me some pity and compassion, for I am a poor woman, and a stranger born out of your dominion. I have here no assured friends, and much less impartial counsel… 

Alas! Sir, wherein have I offended you, or what occasion of displeasure have I deserved?… I have been to you a true, humble and obedient wife, ever comfortable to your will and pleasure, that never said or did any thing to the contrary thereof, being always well pleased and contented with all things wherein you had any delight or dalliance, whether it were in little or much. I never grudged in word or countenance, or showed a visage or spark of discontent. I loved all those whom ye loved, only for your sake, whether I had cause or no, and whether they were my friends or enemies. This twenty years or more I have been your true wife and by me ye have had divers children, although it hath pleased God to call them out of this world, which hath been no default in me… 

When ye had me at first, I take God to my judge, I was a true maid, without touch of man. And whether it be true or no, I put it to your conscience. If there be any just cause by the law that ye can allege against me either of dishonesty or any other impediment to banish and put me from you, I am well content to depart to my great shame and dishonour. And if there be none, then here, I most lowly beseech you, let me remain in my former estate… Therefore, I most humbly require you, in the way of charity and for the love of God – who is the just judge – to spare me the extremity of this new court, until I may be advised what way and order my friends in Spain will advise me to take. And if ye will not extend to me so much impartial favour, your pleasure then be fulfilled, and to God I commit my cause!” (Ridgway 2012)

After her speech, instead of returning to her seat Queen Catherine of Aragon turned and left the court ignoring the calls for her to return. Apparently as she left Catherine stated that ““On, on, it makes no matter, for it is no impartial court for me, therefore I will not tarry. Go on.” (Ridgway 2012)

Catherine of Aragon Legatine Court

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A Queen is Crowned

A Queen is Crowned

1st June 1533

On this day in history Anne Boleyn was crowned Queen of England at Westminster Abby. Long years of waiting, frustration and a plethora of emotions had accumulated into this one magnificent event… Anne Boleyn was finally Queen!

June 1st 1533, Wit Sunday, at approximately 7am people began to gather at Westminster Hall and it was at a little before 9am that Anne Boleyn arrived. She was dressed in purple velvet coronation robes trimmed with ermine, her long dark hair cascaded down her back and she wore a coronet upon her head.

From Westminster Hall Anne Boleyn walked seven hundred yards upon deep blue carpet which lead right to the high alter within Westminster Abby. As she walked the canopy of cloth of gold from yesterday’s procession was carried over her head. Before her was carried the sceptre of gold and the rod of ivory topped by a dove and also the Earl of Oxford, the Lord Great Chamberlin, carrying the crown of St Edward. Behind Anne walked the Bishops of London and Winchester and the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk carried Anne’s long train. Behind these were her ladies and other noble women wearing scarlet clothing.

Within the Abby all of the great peers, Lords, judges and other noble men and officials gathered as well as four bishops, two archbishops and twelve abbots, all of whom were dressed in their finest clothing. Henry VIII watched the whole coronation hidden behind a lattice work screen. Truly this day was all about Anne Boleyn.

Upon entering Westminster Abby Anne proceeded to the choir where upon a dais two steps high was St Edward’s Chair draped in cloth of gold. Here Anne Boleyn sat for her coronation. The coronation consisted of the High Mass and then Anne moved to kneel before the alter. It was here that Archbishop Cranmer prayed over Anne Boleyn and then anointed her. Returning to St Edward’s Chair Anne Boleyn was crowned with St Edward’s Crown, the gold sceptre and rod of ivory. She was now, in the eyes of the Church and God, Queen of England.

After the Te Deum was sung St Edward’s Crown was exchanged for a lighter one, costumed and made uniquely for Anne. Next Anne took the sacrament and made an offering to the shrine of the saint.

With the coronation service finally over Anne and all of the nobles, churchmen, ladies etc. returned to Westminster Hall where a great feast was prepared. Anne withdrew to her chambers for a short time while all eight hundred guests were seated.

Anne Boleyn sat at the head of Westminster Hall at a great marble table which was set on a dais twelve steps up. She sat on the King’s great marble chair, with a more comfortable chair fitted inside. She sat under a cloth of estate. Standing by Anne was the Dowager Countess of Oxford and the Countess of Worcester who would hold up a cloth to hide Anne’s face if she wished to spit or touch her mouth. The only other person to share the table with Anne was the Archbishop of Canterbury, but he sat a good deal down to her right. Below Anne were four long tables where the great noblemen and woman and members of the church sat according to their rank. Anne’s husband Henry VIII and the French and Venetian Ambassadors sat in a special box which overlooked the high table. Truly Anne Boleyn was the centre of attention at this great event.

Charles Brandon, the Duke of Suffolk and high steward, was responsible for this great feast and for the event he wore a doublet and jacket which was covered with beautiful pearls. Throughout the feast he rode about on a horse which was covered with crimson velvet. In addition to the Duke of Suffolk, Lord William Howard also rode on a horse which was covered in purple velvet embroided with the Howard white lion. Lord Howard was in charge of serving the banquet.

The feast was a magnificent event and there were twenty eight dishes for the first course, twenty four dishes for the second course and thirty for the third course. It is unknown how much this magnificent event cost, but surely with such pomp, glamor and so many lavish dishes, Henry VIII must have spent a huge sum of money upon his new Queen.

At the end of the evening when Anne Boleyn left the great feast it is reported that she said “I thank you all for the honour ye have done to me this day” (Ives 2009, p. 181).

 Anne Boleyn Coronation Westminster

Source:

Hu asdf Ives, E 2009, The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, Blackwell Publishing, Oxford.

Starkey, D 2003, Six Wives The Queens of Henry VIII, Vintage, London.

Weir, A 1991, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Grove Press, New York.

 

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Anne Boleyn’s Coronation Procession

Anne Boleyn’s Coronation Procession

31st May 1533

At 5pm Anne Boleyn left the Tower of London and progressed through the streets of London towards Westminster Hall. She was supposed to leave the tower at 2pm but there were some delays in organising such a huge event and so many people.

First in the massive procession came twelve servants of the French ambassador, Jean de Dinteville, wearing blue velvet with yellow and blue sleeves. They had white plumes in their hats and they rode horses which had cloth of blue with white crosses. Next came the gentlemen of the Royal Household, walking two astride. Then came nine judges wearing scarlet gowns. Following them came the Knights of the Bath which had been newly created the previous night. Next came members of the government, church and other men of noble status including the Archbishop of York, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Venetian Ambassador, the French Ambassador, the Mayor of London, other bishops, earls and marquesses. Also in this group were William Howard who was the acting Deputy Marshal and Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk who was the acting Constable of England.

Following these noble men came Anne Boleyn herself. Anne wore a dress in the French fashion which was made of white cloth of gold and her hair was down and flowing over her shoulders. Upon her head she wore a coif and circlet which was set with very precious stones. She rode in a litter which was decorated also in white cloth of gold and pulled by two palfreys which were also covered in white demask. Covering the litter was a canopy of cloth of gold.

Behind Anne’s litter where was Lord Borough, Anne’s chamberlain and her master of horses, William Coffin. After these two men came Anne’s ladies, twelve which were dressed in crimson velvet (one of those ladies may have been Anne’s sister Mary.) Following these ladies were two carriages decorated in red cloth of gold which carried the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk and the Marchioness of Dorset and perhaps even Anne Boleyn’s mother. Then came many more of Anne’s ladies riding horseback.

It should be noted that several important people did not attend the coronation pageant including the Duchess of Norflk and Sir Thomas More. King Henry VIII’s younger sister Mary Tudor (wife of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk) also did not attend but it should be noted that she was extremely ill at the time and close to death.

There is some debate as to the reaction of the crowds to Anne Boleyn and her huge and impressive coronation procession. Some reports state that the crowds were hostile or at least silent, refusing to take off their caps. Another reports states that the people saw Henry and Anne’s HA motif and read it as “HA HA” and laughed at the future Queen. Yet other versions of the event state that the whole affair was magnificent with enormous crowds. Unfortunately we do not know the true thoughts and reactions of the people watching, but whatever it was surely the procession must have been quite spectacular!

On the way of the procession there were several pageants which included one of Apollo and the nine muses on Mount Parnassus which was designed by Hans Holebin himself. Another pageant was of a large stump in which white and red roses spilled. A white falcon (the bird on Anne Boleyn had taken on her badge) came down from heaven and landed on the stump. Then came an angel which wore armour came down and gave the falcon a crown. A third pageant was of St Anne surrounded by her children and at this poetry was read which spoke of England’s hope that the child Anne was carrying would be a son. Another pageant had angels giving crowns to Anne and a woman stating that when Anne Boleyn gave birth to a son there will be a golden world. There was also a fountain which followed with wine and children which read Anne poetry.

When Anne Boleyn finally arrived at Westminster Hall she was welcomed by King Henry VII and then had some light refreshments before thanking everyone and retiring to her chambers.

Anne Boleyn Coronation Procession

Source:

Ives, E 2009, The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, Blackwell Publishing, Oxford.

Ridgway, C 2012, ‘31st May 1533 – Anne Boleyn’s Coronation Procession’, viewed 31st May 2016, Available from internet < http://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/19003/31st-may-1533-anne-boleyns-coronation-procession/&gt;.

Weir, A 1991, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Grove Press, New York.

 

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19th May 1536

19th May 1536

For her last day, perhaps her greatest day, Anne chose to wear a dress of gray damask which had a crimson kirtle underneath and a mantle that was trimmed with ermine. She wore an English hood, a necklace and earrings. One might gloss over Anne’s choice of dress for her final moments but I think it is extremely important to stop for a moment and look at this gown Anne had chosen to wear. Anne was an extremely clever woman and she did not simply choose this outfit on a whim, no there was a strong reason behind it. Crimson or red was the colour of martyrdom and this was the third time since her arrest that Anne had chosen to wear this colour. Twice before, each time on extremely important moments Anne had worn crimson. If one remembers the day that Anne was arrested she returned to her chambers and dressed in a beautiful dress of gold and crimson. As she was taken by barge down the river Thames to the Tower of London it is said that the sun shone off her jewels and dress. Anyone that looked upon her would have seen the crimson of her dress. At her trial Anne wore a gown of black with a crimson petticoat, the second time she was to display the colour of martyrdom. Hundreds upon hundreds of eyes stared at Anne during her trial, unconsciously taking in the silent message she was trying to convey through her choice of clothing. And now once more, in her final hours, when again hundreds of eyes would be watching her, Anne chose carefully. Without having to say a word, through her gown Anne was showing her martyrdom, proclaiming her innocence.

At 8am Sir Kingston came to tell Anne that her hour was approaching and that she should prepare herself, but Anne was already prepared. She told Sir Kingston: ‘Acquit yourself of your charge for I have long been prepared’ (Weir 2009, pg. 261).

At 9am, or perhaps a little before, Anne was to leave her chambers in the Queen’s lodgings for the last time. Three years ago she had stayed in the very same lodgings on the night before her coronation, the night before she was to be raised above all others to become Queen of England. Now she left the same chambers to face her death. As she left the Queen’s lodgings Anne was accompanied by four ladies in waiting. It has been suggested that these four women were not those same ladies in waiting whom Anne detested that had been attending to her during her imprisonment. Instead it has been proposed that they were four of Anne’s ladies in waiting that had attended her during her marriage to Henry VIII.

Leaving her chambers Anne walked down the stairs from the Queen’s lodgings to the courtyard between the Jewel House and the King’s Hall. Two hundred Yeomen were there to lead Anne, her ladies in waiting, Sir Kingston and several others to the scaffold that had been erected. She walked through the courtyard and then through the twin towers of the Coldharbour Gate (which no longer stands) to the scaffold that awaited her. It has been reported that approximately a thousand people surrounded the scaffold upon Tower Green to watch the execution of Anne Boleyn, Queen of England. Of course several of those watching were the men whom had fought so viciously to bring these charges upon Anne including Thomas Cromwell, the Duke of Richmond (Anne’s step son) and the Duke of Suffolk.

Despite thousands of eyes staring at her Anne is said to have looked composed and dignified. One report states that Anne ‘has never looked more beautiful’ (Fraser 2002, pg. 315). It is great credit to the type of woman that Anne Boleyn was, that in her final moments knowing she was about to die, that she could hold herself with such composure and beauty.

The scaffold was draped in black cloth and had straw scattered across it. Upon the scaffold waited the French executioner. His sword was hidden under the straw to save Anne seeing the tool that would soon end her life. Slowly Anne took the steps that lead up to the scaffold and took her place in the centre. She turned and ‘begged leave to speak to the people, promising she would not speak a word that was not good’ (Weir 2009, pg. 266). She then asked Kingston ‘not to hasten the signal for her death till she had spoken that which she had mind to say’ (Weir 2009, pg. 266).

Anne spoke…

‘Good Christian people, I am come hither to die, according to the law, for by the law I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it. I come here only to die, and thus to yield myself humbly to the will of the King, my lord. And if, in my life, I did ever offend the King’s Grace, surely with my death I do now atone. I come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak anything of that whereof I am accused, as I know full well that aught I say in my defence doth not appertain to you. I pray and beseech you all, good friends, to pray for the life of the King, my sovereign lord and yours, who is one of the best princes on the face of the earth, who has always treated me so well that better could not be, wherefore I submit to death with good will, humbly asking pardon of all the world. If any person will meddle with my cause, I require them to judge the best. Thus I take my leave of the world, and of you, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me. Oh Lord, have mercy on me! To God I commend my soul’ (Weir 2009, pg. 266 – 267).

After her speech Anne’s ladies helped her remove her mantle, earrings, necklace and take off her hood. It is said that her long dark hair tumbled out and that her ladies helped her tuck it under a white cap to keep it out of the swords way. After this Anne is said to have thanked her ladies for their help and begged them for forgiveness for any harshness she may have showed them. She also asked her ladies not to be sorry for her but instead to pray for her.

Knowing that the Queen’s end was drawing to a close the executioner stepped forward and asked that Anne forgive him for what he was about to do. She willingly forgave him and then he asked her to kneel and say her prayers. Anne knelt and tucked her dress underneath her so that it would not fly about her legs. Some accounts from those who watched the execution say that one of Anne’s ladies in waiting stepped forward to cover her eyes while other reports state that Anne refused to have her eyes covered.

As she knelt upon the straw Anne repeated over and over the prayer: ‘Jesu, have pity on my soul! My God, have pity on my soul, To Jesus Christ I commend my soul…’ (Weir 2009, pg. 270).  It was only now, in the last few minutes of her life that Anne’s resolve began to falter. It is said that nervously she kept looking over her shoulder waiting for the executioners blow to come. The executioner seeing this turned to his assistant and called ‘bring me the sword’ (Weir 2009, pg. 271). Anne turned her head to look at the steps where the assistant presumably was. In this moment the executioner pulled out his sword from beneath the straw. Lifting it high above his head he swung it several times to build up momentum and then with one swift blow he brought it down severing Anne Boleyn’s neck, her lips still moving in prayer.

And so it was done, Anne Boleyn, Queen of England, was dead. A few moments after her death the great guns of the Tower were fired to signal that the Queen of England had been executed. After this one of Anne’s ladies in waiting stepped forward and covered Anne’s head with a white cloth before picking it up. The three others lifted up the still bleeding body of Anne and carried it away from the scaffold. Anne’s bloodied clothes were removed in one last humiliation as they were now the property of the King. There was no coffin for Anne, no formal place to rest her body instead she was placed in a chest which used to contain bow-staves. It is said to have been too small for her and thus her decapitated head had to be tucked under her arm. The chest was taken to the church in the Tower – the chapel of St Peter ad Vincula where the paving stones were lifted up and a shallow grave was dug. The chest containing Anne’s body was placed into the ground and buried. No marker was placed over the grave.

For his part after hearing of Anne’s death, Henry VIII rode to Hampton Court where Jane Seymour was staying. The next morning, May 20th he proposed marriage to Jane and the couple were married on May 30th – only eleven days after Anne’s execution. It seems as though Henry was not grieved by his late wife’s passing.

Upon hearing of Anne death it has been said that Archbishop Cranmer stated ‘She who has been the Queen of England on earth will today become a Queen in Heaven’ (Ridgway 2010).

 Anne Boleyn

Sources:

Anne Boleyn Letters Henry VIII Hever Castle 2009, Kay Jay Print Ltd, West Yorkshire.

Dolman, B, Holmes, S, Impey, E & Spooner, J 2009, Experience the Tower of London, Historical Royal Palaces, Surrey.

Fraser, A 2002, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Phoenix Press, London.

Ives, E 2005, The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Australia.

Ridgway, C 2010, The Anne Boleyn Files, viewed 19 May 2016, <http://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/>.

Weir, A 1991, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Grove Press, New York.

Weir, A 2009, The Lady in The Tower The Fall of Anne Boleyn, Jonathan Cape, London.

 

 

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15th May 1536

15th May 1536

Dressed in a gown of deep black with a crimson petticoat and wearing a hat with a black and white feather on it Anne prepared to face her trial. The trail was held in the King’s Hall at the Tower of London. Anne, still being the Queen of England was to face a jury of her own peers – though to say that they were unbiased would be a huge understatement. The men upon the jury  – men including Charles Brandon the Duke of Suffolk who was well known to dislike Anne, were either very close friends with the King or allies of Mary Tudor or the Seymour family – men whom held no love in their hearts for Anne Boleyn.

Entering the King’s hall Anne must have known that she would be facing a losing battle this day. With Norris, Weston, Brereton and Smeaton already found guilty of treason against the King and sentenced to death there was little chance, if any at all, that Anne would be found innocent. No, it would seem that the trial of Anne Boleyn was for mere appearances only. Anne was still the Queen of England and thus had the right to a trial by a jury of her peers by the King’s law – the outcome of this trial whoever seems to have already been decided.

Hundreds of people came to the Tower to see Anne Boleyn’s trial – for the very Queen of England to be tried for adultery, incest and treason was surely no light matter! Such were the number of people that a platform had to be constructed in the middle of the hall for Anne to sit on. At the other end of the hall sat her Uncle the Duke of Norfolk who was to preside over the events. Official documents of the trial have been lost over time, but word of mouth, letters and reports passed on all collaborate that Anne entered the King’s hall with such poise and dignity only befitting a Queen. Presenting herself to the jury Anne showed no sign of fear or nerves. She then gave a small curtsey to the jury before taking a seat which had been prepared for her upon the middle of the platform.

Then the charges were read to Anne, every sordid, horrible, scandalous detail was revealed to all of those persons within the hall. It is said that throughout this indignity Anne sat here, poised and beautiful, showing no sign of disgust or guilt. After this she was asked how she pleaded, the Queen replied that she was not guilty of all charges.

Those trying Anne for her crimes argued staunchly of her guilt, giving the evidence presented at the Westminster and Kent indictments as examples of the horrendous crimes Anne had committed against her husband, the King of England. For her part Anne defended herself with great dignity and spirit, such was the very nature of Anne Boleyn. She adamantly denied all the charges against her and argued that ‘she had maintained her honour and her chastity all her life long.’ (Weir 2009, pg. 215)

But all of this, Anne’s great spirit and fight for her innocence was of no use. One by one each member of the jury stood and gave their verdict – every man said guilty. Anne Boleyn, the Queen of England had been found guilty of all the charges presented before her, adultery, incest and treason.

After the verdict was given and Anne’s guilt declared she was asked to remove her crown and all her titles. After this humiliation Anne’s sentence was read out:

‘Because thou hast offended against our sovereign the King’s Grace in committing treason against his person, the law of the realm is this, that though hast deserved death, and thy judgement is this: that thou shalt be burnt here within the Tower of London on the Green, else to have thy head smitten off, as the King’s pleasure shall be further known of the same’ (Weir 2009 pg. 218).

In reply to this fateful sentence Anne is said to have replied…

“My lords, I will not say your sentence is unjust, nor presume that my reasons can prevail against your convictions. I am willing to believe that you have sufficient reasons for what you have done; but then they must be other than those which have been produced in court, for I am clear of all the offences which you then laid to my charge. I have ever been a faithful wife to the King, though I do not say I have always shown him that humility which his goodness to me, and the honours to which he raised me, merited. I confess I have had jealous fancies and suspicions of him, which I had not discretion enough, and wisdom, to conceal at all times. But God knows, and is my witness, that I have not sinned against him in any other way. Think not I say this in the hope to prolong my life, for He who saveth from death hath taught me how to die, and He will strengthen my faith. Think not, however, that I am so bewildered in my mind as not to lay the honour of my chastity to heart now in mine extremity, when I have maintained it all my life long, much as ever queen did. I know these, my last words, will avail me nothing but for the justification of my chastity and honour. As for my brother and those others who are unjustly condemned, I would willingly suffer many deaths to deliver them, but since I see it so pleases the King, I shall willingly accompany them in death, with this assurance, that I shall lead an endless life with them in peace and joy, where I will pray to God for the King and for you, my lords.”(Weir 2009, pg. 219 – 220)

After her speech Anne curtsied again to those who had just convicted her to death and was lead out of the King’s hall back to the Queen’s lodgings. The gaoler that was with her turned his axe inwards to show all those that witness that Anne Boleyn had been sentenced to death.

After Anne’s trial her brother George Boleyn, Lord Rochford was lead into the King’s hall and his trial commenced. Like Anne he was judged by his fellow peers, all whom held no love for him. Now that Norris, Weston, Brereton, Smeaton and his own sister had been found guilty and sentenced to death there was no hope for George. He pleaded not guilty to all the charges presented and although he put up a brave fight and is said to have challenged the charges with great wit he too was found guilty of incest and treason and sentenced to death. He was lead out of the King’s hall and back to his lodgings where he was to await his death.

For Anne she was now back in the Queen’s lodgings her fate sealed. She had fought bravely to the end, proclaiming her innocence valiantly and holding herself with great dignity and poise – the true spirit of Anne Boleyn always shining through. Yet now her fate was sealed and all she could do now was make her peace with God and await her death.

Anne Boleyn

Sources:

Fraser, A 2002, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Phoenix Press, London.

Ives, E 2005, The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Australia.

Weir, A 1991, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Grove Press, New York.

Weir, A 2009, The Lady in The Tower The Fall of Anne Boleyn, Jonathan Cape, London.

 

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