When Anne Boleyn was executed in 1536, a shockwave went through Europe’s courts, and not all were convinced of Anne’s guilt. The following letter is from Mary of Hungary, who was the niece of Catherine of Aragon and was, therefore, no friend of Anne’s. Though she doesn’t seem to think Anne was guilty she, like the imperial ambassador Eustace Chapuys, possibly believed she deserved to die for other actions during her lifetime.
“I hope that the English will not do us much harm now we are rid of the King’s mistress, who was a good Frenchwoman, and whom, as you have no doubt heard, he has beheaded; and since no one skilful enough to do the deed could be found among his own subjects, he sent for the executioner of S. Omer, in order that a Frenchman should be the minister of his vengeance.
I hear that he has married another lady, who is said to be a good Imperialist, although I do not know if she will remain so much longer. He is said to have taken a fancy to her before the last one’s death, which, coupled with the fact that neither the poor woman nor any of those who were beheaded with her, saving one miserable musician, could be brought to acknowledge her guilt, naturally makes people suspect that he invented this pretext in order to get rid of her. . . . It is to be hoped—if one can hope anything from such a man—that when he is tired of this wife he will find some better way of getting rid of her.
Women, I think, would hardly be pleased if such customs became general, and with good reason; and although I have no wish to expose myself to similar risks, yet, as I belong to the feminine sex, I, too, will pray that God may preserve us from such perils.”
Mary of Hungary to her brother Ferdinand in 1536