Anne Boleyn – The road to execution




(public domain)

Queen

Now that she was Queen, at last, she needed to perform a Queen’s most important task. She needed to provide him with a male heir. She was already pregnant, and so the future looked promising. On Whit Sunday, 1 June 1533, Anne Boleyn received a magnificent coronation while she was around six months pregnant.1

They probably miscalculated their days a bit as Anne only took to her chambers ten days before the future Queen Elizabeth I was born on 7 September 1533. The custom dictated a six-week period for this.2 The sex of the baby must have disappointed Anne and Henry.3 For Anne, security would only come if she gave birth to a son. The delay between her agreeing to marry Henry and the actual wedding, five years total, would have considerately lessened her chances of producing a healthy son. By now, she was probably around 30 years old. Anne was pregnant again around three months after the birth of Elizabeth. At the end of July 1534, Anne miscarried.4 It was such a great secret that the Imperial Ambassador only reported it in September.5

The first hints of a rift began to appear between Henry and Anne. The Imperial Ambassador reported that the King had taken a mistress and Anne had wished to dismiss her. The affair was over next February when Anne’s own cousin Margaret Shelton had taken her place. Anne had been thrust into the new roles of mother and Queen; she was no longer the mistress. By October 1535, Anne was pregnant again though she did not know it yet.6

Rival

We don’t know exactly when Henry’s eye fell on Jane Seymour, but she had long been associated with the court. She had been part of Catherine of Aragon’s household, and after a royal visit to Wolfhall where she lived, she was now part of Anne’s household. The Imperial Ambassador mentioned in February 1536 that Jane had been singled out for the King’s attention. 7 The new year began with the death of Catherine of Aragon. Henry was relieved to be free from the suspicion of war.8 The following day, Anne and Henry appeared in joyful yellow from top to toe and Elizabeth was paraded on the way to church.9 Anne was now the sole Queen of England, but her joy was not to last. On 29 January, the day of Catherine’s funeral, she miscarried the child she had been carrying.10 This seemed to be the turning point in their relationship, and for Henry, the loss of a seemingly male child was a huge blow.11

At the end of March, Henry wrote to Jane, but she sent the letter back unopened.12 She too would hold of for marriage, she had seen it done once before.

The End

The coup against Anne was put in place by Thomas Cromwell, Henry’s chief minister.13 On 30 April 1536, Mark Smeaton, a musician in Anne’s household, was arrested. He was accused of adultery with the Queen. On May Day, suddenly left Anne at the end of the joust and travelled by horseback to Whitehall. Sir Henry Norris, Henry’s groom of the stool, was sent to the Tower on 2 May. Later that same morning, Anne too was accused of adultery and told that she would be taken to the Tower. Anne’s brother George,  Sir Francis Weston and William Brereton were also arrested.14 George’s own wife, Jane, testified against him.15

Anne and her brother were tried on 15 May in the King’s Hall in the Tower, which had special stands erected to hold 2000 people.16 Anne was tried first, accompanied by Lady Kingston and her aunt. She pleaded “not guilty.” She was in clear command of herself and “she made wise and discrete answers to all things said against her, excusing herself with the words so clearly as though she had never been faulty to the same.”17 Her own uncle passed the guilty verdict. “Because thou hast offended our sovereign the King’s grace in committing treason against his person and here attained of the same, the law of the realm in this, that thou hast deserved death, and thy judgement in this: that thou shall be burned 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.”18 Anne addressed the court after this, but the speech has not been recorded in full. The Imperial Ambassador reported that Anne said that she was ready to die but was regretful of those innocent and loyal men who were to die because of her.19

The men were executed on 17 May 1536, but Anne would have to wait two more days. On 19 May 1536, Anne, her marriage now declared null and void, and her daughter bastardized, walked her final steps to the scaffold. She wore a grey damask gown lined with fur and an ermine mantle with an English gable hood. Anne spoke firmly, “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.”20  

Her ermine mantle was removed, and her hair was tucked into a cap. She said a brief farewell to her weeping attendants, and she kneeled down saying all the while, “Jesu receive my soul; O Lord God have pity on my soul; To Christ, I commend my soul.”21 She was blindfolded and while her lips were still moving, it was over.

Her attendants covered her; her head was covered with a white cloth which quickly turned red. They carried the Queen into the Chapel of St. Peter, where her clothes were removed. Her body was placed in an elm chest and buried.22 Henry married Jane Seymour just 11 days later.

  1. Eric Ives – The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn p.178
  2. Eric Ives – The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn p.170
  3. Eric Ives – The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn p.184
  4. Eric Ives – The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn p.191
  5. Eric Ives – The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn p.192
  6. Eric Ives – The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn p.291
  7. Eric Ives – The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn p.293
  8. Eric Ives – The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn p.295
  9. Eric Ives – The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn p.295
  10. Eric Ives – The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn p.296
  11. Eric Ives – The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn p.298
  12. Eric Ives – The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn p.304
  13. Eric Ives – The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn p.317
  14. Eric Ives – The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn p.320
  15. Eric Ives – The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn p.331
  16. Eric Ives – The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn p.340
  17. Eric Ives – The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn p.340
  18. Eric Ives – The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn p.341
  19. Eric Ives – The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn p.341
  20. Eric Ives – The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn p.358
  21. Eric Ives – The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn p.358-359
  22. Eric Ives – The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn p.359






About Moniek 1469 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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