Henry VIII and Family

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Anne Boleyn's Swift and Bloody Fall: Justice or Tragedy?

I found myself lying awake tonight, unable to sleep as I pondered over one of history's most notorious Queen Consorts, Anne Boleyn.  I have been what you might call obsessed over the history of this woman for many years.  I have been intrigued with her life as a whole:  her childhood, her education at the Austrian and French courts, her grand entrance into the Tudor court, her love affair and marriage to King Henry VIII, and most of all, her swift downfall, disgrace, and death.

The anniversary of her death is soon approaching, and by that I mean merely hours.  I think about how she must have felt on her very last night here on this earth.  Did she look out her window thinking back on everything on her life?  Did she fear for her daughter, Elizabeth's future?  Did she remain on her knees praying through the night?  Did she still wonder how it all came down to this?  Her impending death must still have been an extreme shock to her, I would think.

In all I have read of Anne Boleyn from Eric Ives to David Starkey, Antonia Frasier to Allison Weir, and hundreds of interesting and educational writings of Claire Ridgeway, in my heart of hearts and intellect, I strongly feel Anne was not guilty of what she was charged with and accused of.

I can say for certain that she was a strong willed woman with a viscious temper, and she unleashed it at the most unfortunate times.  I can also say for certain that once Henry married Anne, expected certain things:  a son, a woman who would bend to his will, a quiet companion who would leave him to rule.  That was not what he found in her, and I believe he grew to resent those things, especially when she continued to fail in her promise to provide him a son and heir for the throne.

Was this cause to have her executed?  In my opinion, no.  I feel that ultimately, in Henry's obsession to have a son, he decided to be rid of her in the swiftest and most calculated way possible and wanted nothing to do with another tedious divorce trial.  After all, if Anne was dead, no one could dispute another child's legitimacy if one was to be born.

What is so intriguing about this woman that I am sitting here at an ungodly late hour writing furiously about her?

In one sentence:  She is a woman I greatly admire, her faults, foibles, wrongdoings and all.  One can simply look at the negative qualities that make up what is some of Anne Boleyn, or they can look at the entire woman.  Who she is is quite remarkable even by today's standards.  She was educated in the highest, most luxurious courts in the world, she was intellegent and witty, always fashionable, an accomplished dancer and musician, a loving mother, and passionate about her faith.  

I think now about how difficult it would have been to be sitting in a tower that was once lavish with her coronation and being "the most happy," and waiting to walk to the scaffold to be executed in front of friends and enemies alike.  It took great grace and courage to stand there and give a speech, completely composed and wait for the sword to slice her lovely neck.

How heartwrenching and sad it must have been for her to see her brother's execution, to be abandoned by family and friends, but most of all to have her husband, the one she loved beyond all others to order her death as if he were ordering tea.  As she sat at the window in the tower, he was arranging plans to marry another woman as if she no longer existed before the execution began.  That kind of betrayal is unspeakable and I can't quite find the words to describe what must have been going through her mind at a time like that.

This cold, early morning of May 19th, I mourn the loss of Anne Boleyn's life, what she was and what she could have been.  I mourn the loss of a little girl's mother, a daughter to Elizabeth Howard, and I mourn the cruel injustices dealt to her.  It is a tragedy, in my opinion.  A senseless and heartless one, and I choose to remember the light that she once was in this world.