Saturday, June 2, 2012

Anne Boleyn Again

The Old Man knows that one thing often leads to another.

Take Anne Bolyen and her marriage to Henry VIII for example. Anne Boleyn had a pivotal effect on English history. She deposed a Queen, Catherine of Aragon, cause a schism in the English Church and a split with the Roman Pope, started a war with Spain that ended with the destruction of the Spanish Armada in 1588, and brought forth into the world a bastard child, Elizabeth, who unwanted and ignored for most of her life would become England's most famous Queen Bess.

The Old Man wonders what kind of woman was Anne. There is the rumor that Anne had 6 fingers and 3 breast along with assorted moles all over her body. But that is silly, King Henry VIII, himself a good looking man, would not have been attracted to someone so bizarre.

The Venetian Ambassador to the English Court said she was 'not one of the handsomest women in the world...'.  Physically, she had dark, olive-colored skin, thick dark brown hair and piercing eyes dark brown which often appeared black.  She was of average height, had small breasts, and a long, elegant neck.

Anne Boleyn image from Wikipedia
Anne Boleyn was one to inspire poetry, even if not all of it was flattery. Sir Thomas Wyatt, another suitor wrote this unflattering poem after her marriage to Henry in 1533.

Ye old mule that think yourself so fair,
Leave off with craft your beauty to repair,
For it is true, without any fable,
No man setteth more by riding in your saddle.
Too much travail so do your train appair.
     Ye old mule
With false savour though you deceive th'air,
Whoso taste you shall well perceive your lair...
Read the full poem at English History

Anne's coronation, we know from the prior post, was Whitsunday, June 1, 1533. Anne gave birth to Elizabeth on September the 7th, 68 days after her coronation as Queen Anne for those who are counting. Anne was expected to give birth to a male heir, but failed. She tried again, or should we say Henry did. By January of 1634, she was again pregnant, but the child was stillborn. She was again pregnant, but by January of 1635, the child was stillborn.

For Henry, it was apparently three strikes and you are out. The queen was tried for treason - the charges were incest, adultery and plotting Henry's death. Enough witnesses were found to condemn her and she was executed by beheading on Monday, May 15, 1536.

If we know nothing else about Anne, we know that she was a forgiving person. Her final speech before the stroke that delivered her head from her body was recorded and saved. Here it is:


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.

The sword that was to do the deed was hidden in the straw on the scaffold were she was executed. After being blindfolded and kneeling at the block, she repeated several times:

To Jesus Christ I commend my soul; Lord Jesus receive my soul.

Contrast Anne's quiet demeanor with Henry's actions.

On the morning of Anne's execution, Henry, attired for a chase and attended by his huntsmen, waited near Richmond, and when he heard the boom of the signal gun, which was to assure him that Anne breathed no more, exclaimed in exultation, "Uncouple the hounds, and away!" Paying no regard to the game, he galloped off at full speed to Wolf Hall where Jane Seymour was staying. The next morning, Saturday, May 20th, 1536, he led Jane Seymour to the altar of Tottenham church.

1 comment:

  1. (From The Tudors wiki) What was written on the sword that struck Anne? It says in French "La main droite, c'est mon seigneur. La Vertu, L'Amour Le Mort" which means "My right hand is my Lord. Virtue, Love, and Death."