When in 1532 Anne Boleyn finally gave in and slept with King Henry VIII and then in 1533 secretly married him, she as good as sealed her own death warrant. She was the first English Queen to be executed and her execution speech is a paradox of the journey which brought her to the block. In May 1536, just three years after marrying the King, Anne was executed on trumped up charges of adultery, incest and sexual perversion. Her real crimes were nothing like as steamy, she failed on two accounts, one she refused to switch from role of powerful independent mistress to that of silent and subservient wife and two, she failed to give Henry a son. How one hopes she was able to watch down and see the courageous and great queen her daughter Elizabeth became.
‘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.’
After being blindfolded and kneeling at the block, she repeated several times:This from the Chronicle of Edward Hall 1542
‘To Jesus Christ I commend my soul; Lord Jesu receive my soul
The speech was recorded by the Tudor chronicler, Edward Hall. In it there is no blame of King Henry, who incidentally went out hunting whilst the Queen was killed. She honours him in every way, maybe knowing just how ruthless and unmerciful he was capable of being she sought to protect her daughter by not incurring his wrath further. Within twenty four hours of Anne’s execution Henry married again to Jane Seymour. She was everything had not been, she would be a submissive and religiously conservative wife, would that be enough to spare her her head? Find out more by exploring our Tudor timeline.